When discussions are held about the inability to pass sports betting legislation in Missouri, one person is almost always mentioned.
State Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, has helped block bills in the last two years through filibusters on the Senate floor. He’s not opposed to legalizing Missouri sports betting. However, he’s also tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation that would allow video lottery terminals in the state, a measure strongly opposed by the state’s casino interests.
Hoskins attended the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States Summer Meeting in Denver last week and spoke with BetMissouri about his views on sports betting and its chances in the upcoming legislative session.
Hoskins: VLTs More Lucrative Than Sports Betting
Hoskins is also known for supporting the legalization of video lottery terminals across the state. It’s a “high priority” position for the former Army National Guardsman, who says the revenue from the slot-like games would generate millions more in revenue than Missouri sports betting apps would.
That revenue would fund veteran nursing homes and cemeteries across the state. VLTs would also produce revenue for small businesses and local establishments across the state, including bars and fraternal organizations that would likely be eligible to host between five and 10 machines.
However, Hoskins has yet to generate enough support for VLTs to get that passed in the legislature. Missouri’s casinos have been an ardent opponent of that form of expanding gaming.
‘Tip of the Spear’
Hoskins has become the public face to many for sports betting’s failure to pass in Jefferson City.
Hoskins said he’s like “the tip of the spear” regarding sports betting. He may get a lot of the blame for its demise, but he said he’s not the only one who has opposed or sought to amend recent bills. For example, nine other senators offered amendments to Senate Bill 30 this year.
For those who think Hoskins is the only one that would block a sports betting measure, the senator says that’s not the case.
“I’ve been approached by five or six senators who said they were not going to let sportsbook pass,” he told BetMissouri.
So, that could mean another lawmaker could take Hoskins’ place in a filibuster role after his second and final term in the Senate ends next year.
And while some have questioned why Missouri has a filibuster rule, Hoskins says it’s worthwhile because it forces compromises, something he said the state’s casino industry has not been willing to do.
Although sports betting has gotten close in the legislature the last two years, there has been no movement on adding Missouri online casinos.
More Money for Problem Gaming Needed
Hoskins reiterated he supports a sports betting bill if, in his opinion, it’s done right. That would include setting aside $10 million for problem gaming services because the operators who stand to make millions from Missouri sports betting “should be the ones to pay for the problems it causes,” he said.
However, Hoskins claimed the casinos have not been willing to fund problem gaming to that level. They’ve also been unwilling to budge on other issues.
“The casinos want to have their cake and icing and eat it, too,” he said.