Once again, the Missouri General Assembly ended its annual session without passing legislation to legalize sports betting.
Just as in past years, legal Missouri sports betting bills allowing it to join the now 37 other states with legalized wagering fell by the wayside in the Senate. Rather than vote on them, the final hours of the Senate’s session Friday afternoon included plenty of finger-pointing about who was to blame for a number of bills dying.
The war of words then continued on social media.
Senators Point Fingers Over Failed Legislation
Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said some members had ulterior reasons for sabotaging efforts to legalize sports betting and pass tax reform.
“Senator (Cindy) O’Laughlin (the Republican floor leader) and I offered a bill that would cut taxes by nearly $750m with sports betting included,” Rowden tweeted Friday evening as the session was winding down. “It was rejected by the ‘Conservative Caucus’ because we wouldn’t put slot machines in gas stations.
“There’s nothing conservative about that position in my view.”
Earlier in the day, Rowden called out Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, on social media, saying they needed to “take ownership of the fact they killed personal property tax cuts and sports betting.”
Eigel shot back, blaming Rowden for making senators choose between the two bills.
“A vote was taken in the Senate to go to a personal property tax OR to sports gambling. 26 Senators voted for sports gambling; 8 voted for tax cuts,” he tweeted about a half-hour after Rowden.
Sports Betting Could Appear on 2024 Ballot
Few figured Missouri sports betting apps would be legalized this year after a sports betting bill was filibustered earlier in the session.
However, some late hope arose after state Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, amended a Hoskins tax incentive bill to include sports betting language.
Hoskins let that bill die by not letting his colleagues vote to concur with the House’s changes.
Hoskins has stalled sports betting bills as he’s tried to push for video lottery terminals to be legalized in the state. Casino interests that back sports betting measures oppose the gaming machines. That impasse, combined with Missouri Senate rules that allow lawmakers to wage filibusters, has kept the Show Me State on the sidelines regarding legalizing sports betting.
Frustrated by the lack of progress in Jefferson City, the state’s professional sports teams have indicated they may bypass the legislature and seek a voter referendum to legalize sports betting. A petition drive could start in the near future to put the question on the 2024 ballot.