There appears to be little doubt among veteran lawmakers in the Show Me State that Missouri sports betting is a must going forward.
One such lawmaker is Sen. Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg, who told BetMissouri.com earlier this week that tying together wagering and video lottery terminals is a crucial step towards getting the state in line with its neighbors.
The second-term Republican state senator introduced Senate Bill 1 earlier this month, aiming to legalize both options.
SB-1 and a pair of other senate bills — SB-30 and SB-192 — were discussed in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
A day later, the committee dealt Hoskins a blow, voting down SB-1 by a 10-2 margin, instead choosing to go with Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s SB-30 bill that is a wagering-only bill in a 11-1 vote.
“In my opinion, if we’re going to expand gaming and gambling in the state, we should discuss that all at once,” Hoskins told BetMissouri.com before Thursday’s vote. “All of these are very interrelated.
“And if we pass a sports betting-only bill that doesn't help out my veterans homes or veterans cemeteries, or the many fraternal organizations and bars and restaurants and taverns or truck stops that have some of these machines now. So, I think it's one discussion on gambling and that's why I filed both together in one day.”
Missouri Sports Betting’s Chances in 2023
During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the three Missouri gaming bills Wednesday, various parties concerned with wagering and VLTs clashed, showing how entrenched the battle lines are in the chamber.
Prior to Thursday’s vote, Hoskins said he expected the three bills to be rolled into one larger piece of legislation at some point during the session, as they are all more or less intertwined.
By doing that, Missouri would have been able to knock out two forms of gaming that have been points of contention over the last year or so, while also providing funding for veterans homes and cemeteries in the state.
That’s the cause that spurred Hoskins to sponsor SB-1, as he hopes VLTs and wagering can help provide enough financial support to maintain the state’s veterans facilities.
Hoskins said prior to Thursday’s hearing he believed this year’s session could be the one that gets VLTs and wagering across the finish line, thanks to the success of both forms of gaming to Missouri’s east in Illinois and the hot start for sports betting in Kansas — though that hope is now in question, depending on whether the machines are added into SB-30 going forward.
The marriage of sports betting and VLTs doomed legislative efforts to approve sports betting in 2022.
“I think the momentum has been building,” Hoskins said. “We’ve seen from the state of Illinois that has legalized video lottery terminals, as well as sports book and what they've done. We've also been able to learn things on the sportsbook side from Kansas.”
A major reason why Hoskins is hopeful 2023 is the year for expanded gaming options in Missouri is the turnover in Jefferson City that came about as a result of the 2022 midterm elections.
Hoskins said he’s cautiously optimistic this year’s cast of state senators is pragmatic enough to get a deal done.
“We have some new state senators that have come in that had been very supportive of gaming in the state,” Hoskins said. “We had some state senators that were not so supportive that were termed out.
“So, it’s definitely a new senate over here. It has a different feel. And like I said, with different new state senators that have come in [because of the midterm election], we've had great conversations with them on gaming.”