Missouri Lawmakers Apply Pressure with Two Sports Betting Propositions

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01/06/2023
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Highlights

  • Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer submitted SB 30, calling for legal sports betting
  • An estimated $10-20 million would be added to state funding annually
  • The state senate minority leader admitted to driving out of state to place sports bets

Missouri lawmakers are preparing to take a close look at legalizing sports betting in the upcoming legislative session.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Buchanan) has already pre-filed Senate Bill (SB) 30, which he says would create $10-20 million in annual funding for Missouri schools through the legalization of sports betting. Several other policymakers are backing the effort as Missouri looks to join six of its eight neighboring states that already have legal sports gambling markets.

Part of the plan contains allocations for gambling treatment centers. Luetkemeyer said that regulating sports betting would stop the influx of illegal gambling attempts and scams.

Missourians want sports betting

Sports betting is legal in 36 states and Washington D.C. Ohio is the most recent state to join the collective, having launched its market on New Year’s day.

It is no secret that legal sports betting can bring a heap of financial rewards to states, both with respect to their local economies and infrastructural treasury. New York, which legalized sports betting nearly one year ago, had already claimed an estimated $638 million in tax funds as of Christmas Day.

“What we’re seeing is education tax dollars from Missouri citizens spilling over into our border states,” said Luetkemeyer. “So, what I want to make sure is that we’re keeping those education dollars here in Missouri and making sure that we’re supporting our schools and supporting our teachers.”

Luetkemeyer was referencing Missourians who have traveled across the border to place their bets after being denied access to gambling sites inside state lines. According to geo-tracking company GeoComply, 1,270 users from November 16-December 16 accessed legal sportsbooks in nearby states after unsuccessfully attempting to in Missouri.

GeoComply also revealed that Missourians had 5.7 million attempts to access sports betting sites blocked from September 1-December 16, including 82,000 on November 27 when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Los Angeles Rams.

Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo is one of those people that traveled across the state border to throw down a wager.

“I have absolutely gone to Kansas and made a bet before,” Rizzo (D-Independence) said in an interview with The Independent. “I would say the overwhelming majority of sports enthusiasts in the Kansas City area have made a bet in Kansas.”

Riding the momentum

Luetkemeyer and Rizzo aren’t alone in their desire to make Missouri the new hub of gambling in central North America. Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Peters) introduced HB 581, Wednesday, the first day of the House’s 2023 session, which also calls for the legalization of sports gambling.

Christofanelli has been campaigning for the creation of the market for a while. Last winter, he told 939 the Eagle’s “Wake Up Columbia” that a plan he was sponsoring would have added $15m in revenue to the state kitty.

“[Sports betting] is a topic of conversation everywhere I have been,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield).

As hard as it will be for legislators to ignore the growing momentum of the sports gambling community, they will also be wary of the problems that have persisted. Operators are under fire in states like New York and Ohio for abusing “predatory” language while advertising promotions.

Companies have also been hit with hefty fines for a variety of infractions. For example, Barstool was found guilty of advertising its sportsbook during an event at Toledo University in Ohio, while BetMGM was fined $146,000 for accepting bets before the Maryland market launched.

Missouri, specifically Kansas City, also has a reason for optimism. The Chiefs’ dominance in the NFL means that locals will have a team to get behind for years to come, or as long as megastar quarterback Patrick Mahomes stays healthy.

The Chiefs are the favorites to win this year’s Super Bowl at +380 on FanDuel sportsbook. For reference, the American Gaming Association estimated over 30 million Americans would bet $7.6 billion on last year’s Super Bowl—the implication is that Missouri would reap great rewards if the Chiefs fulfill the sportsbook’s prognostication.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.