Missouri Sports Betting: Can It Be Revived In 2021? 

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It would be easy to count Missouri out of the running for sports betting legalization in 2021. Movement on sports betting legislation in the state this legislative session has been slow.

How slow? It took more than five weeks for the current Senate bill to move from committee to the Senate floor calendar.

But Senate Bill 98 did make it to the floor.  And just like that — Missouri sports betting had a chance at passage in 2021.

Momentum on the bill was lost April 27 after a referendum clause was added to the legislation on a late-night vote. SB 98 sponsor and Senate Economic Development Committee Chair Sen. Denny Hoskins of Warrensburg — who opposed the clause — reacted by moving the bill to the Senate’s informal calendar.

That move gives Hoskins latitude to call the bill up for another vote before the session ends May 14.

Does SB 98 Still Have A Chance? 

It’s uncertain if Hoskins will attempt to pass SB 98 in the week remaining in Missouri’s 2021 Regular Session.

The Senate chairman seemed less than optimistic that sports betting can pass this session in an interview with local sources this week.

“Unfortunately, it appears my gaming bill will not pass this session. It would have provided $200 million for our kids’ schools and veterans homes,” Hoskins told Missourinet. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the interim to find a solution to bring sportsbook and regulated VLTs to Missouri.”

For now, however, SB 98 remains on the Senate informal calendar.  Hoskins can still call up the bill in the next few days.

Issues That Remain

Whether or not Hoskins decides to call the bill back up will likely depend on how much support he can muster from colleagues willing to agree on legalization of sportsbooks and — under his most recent proposal — a limited number of state-regulated video lottery terminals.

Illegal VLTs operating outside of the law have been a clear target of Missouri Senate Pro Tem Dave Schatz. The senator from Sullivan wants strict regulation of the so-called “gray machines,” so-called because they operate in a gray area of the law.

About 20,000 grey market machines are estimated to be operating in Missouri today.

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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