The Missouri legislature will return to session next week, and among the many issues they will have to address is the question of whether or not to legalise sports betting. For quite some time, sports betting has been legal in Missouri, but due to the unregulated nature of the industry, operators have had to avoid the state. That may change, however, with new guidelines that can help ensure responsible and fair play.
Missouri currently has no laws that explicitly ban sports betting. The state constitution does, however, prohibit the use of “lotteries,” which are generally understood to include forms of sports betting that are regulated by government entities. It should come as no great surprise, then, that many in the state legislature have begun to push for change. This year alone, Senator Bob Reynolds (R-Kansas City) introduced a bill that would have made online sports betting legal in the state. That bill did not advance beyond its introduction.
Last year, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a similar bill with a 220 to 204 vote. While that bill did not make it through the Senate, two other pieces of legislation that aim to regulate and legalize sports betting in the state will be considered by the full legislature. Those pieces of legislation are as follows:
This year, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a nearly identical bill, HJR 97, which would regulate and legalize sports betting. The bill passed with a vote of 219 to 205 and is currently awaiting action in the state Senate. If enacted, the bill would allow for both online and offline sports betting. It also includes provisions designed to ensure that minors cannot get involved in the game.
The bill was introduced by Representative Ed Emery (R-Lake Saint Louis) and co-sponsored by forty-seven other representatives. Rep. Emery, a longtime advocate for reining in sports gambling, said that the legislation is meant to “level the playing field” between legal and illegal sports betting operations. The co-chair of the House Subcommittee on Lottery and Gaming, Rep. Emery, said that HJR 97 is designed to take the guesswork out of regulating and licensing sports betting operations. “[It aims to] standardise the process, make it more transparent, and ensure that those who play by the rules end up profiting, rather than those who break the law,” he said in a statement. “[And] it ensures that legal betting operators don’t have a competitive advantage over those who are operating outside of the law.”
Another bill intended to regulate and legalize sports betting in Missouri is HB 1009, which would legalize sports wagering but place restrictions on where and how the activity can take place. Introduced by Representative Wes Ligon (D-St. Louis), the bill would create a seven-member commission to oversee the legal sports betting industry in the state. Ligon, a sports betting enthusiast who co-sponsored the bill, said that he introduced it after meeting with representatives from both sides of the issue, including those who oppose and support legalisation of sports betting.
The commission, which would be responsible for writing game contracts, settling disputes and administering the newly-regulated industry, would consist of up to four representatives from the state sports association as well as up to three public members who would be appointed by the Missouri Governor. Ligon said that the major goal of the bill is to create “a level playing field” for all legal betting operators in the state.
While both of these bills still have a long way to go before becoming law, they represent a significant shift in attitude among those who work in the state legislature. It appears that, for the first time in many years, there is a real opportunity for sports betting to be regulated and accepted in Missouri. As the state legislature considers various options, let’s take a look at how Missouri can continue to serve as a key component in the sports betting industry.
The Impact Of A Legal Sports Betting Industry
According to a report released this year by the Illinois Gaming Board, legal sports betting in the state is projected to bring in $158 million in annual revenue. That makes Illinois a hotbed for legal sports betting, and much of that activity happens in the city of Chicago. The gaming board projects that by 2030, legal sports betting in Chicago alone is projected to bring in $1.5 billion in annual revenue. In 2019, the city of Chicago alone generated $836.8 million in revenue from the sale of food, alcohol and other goods associated with sports events and festivals, according to city government data.
It should come as no great surprise that many in the sports community are cautiously optimistic about the potential for a legal sports betting industry in Missouri. For decades, the state has been a hub for professional sports, and Missouri is still home to several major sports franchises, including the St. Louis Cardinals, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears.
To some extent, the passage of time has rendered moot the question of whether or not Missouri should become a legal sports betting state. While the general attitude among those in the sports community is one of cautious optimism, the reality is that the question is no longer hypothetical. It’s a question of when, not if, Missouri will become a legal sports betting state.
Many in the industry believe that the key to attracting more people to the sports betting fold is to make the activity more accessible and convenient for its players. One of the ways that bettors can now enjoy sports betting is through online platforms. Thanks to the development of technology over the past few decades, sports betting has gone from being a fringe activity to being a major part of many people’s daily lives. In fact, in Illinois, online gambling is now legal and allows for a level of convenience that cannot be found online or offline.
Bettors in Illinois can now place bets from the comfort of their home, or whenever and wherever they choose. Similarly, with the growth of online sportsbooks and fantasy sports leagues, fantasy sports betting is now a possibility for many more people than ever before. Allowing for access to sports betting from all corners of the country has also made it significantly more attractive to international travellers. In many other states, including Maryland, online casinos are now available to U.S. players, further expanding the number of individuals that can enjoy sports betting.
The point is that, in an era where virtual reality and augmented reality are the future of online gaming, physical locations are no longer needed to enjoy a poker or blackjack game. That has made online sportsbooks a popular choice for those looking to enjoy sports betting, and it appears that Missouri is ready to embrace this alternative method of gaming.
While Missouri has been a hub for professional sports for years, it seems that the times they are a-changing. With sports betting being made legal in numerous states, including Illinois and Maryland, Missouri will find itself in a bit of a pickle when it comes to attracting new sports franchises. That being said, the state capital, Jefferson City, is located in a large market area and is the home of the Missouri Department of Revenue. With a population of over 200,000, there should be plenty of interest in the activity.
Whether or not Missouri will become a legal sports betting state is yet to be determined. However, it appears that the time is now, and with the support of both state and federal governments, the question of whether or not to legalise sports betting in Missouri should be resolved in favour of the industry.