Professional Sports Teams Try Again for Legal Sports Betting in Missouri

USA Legal Betting


  • Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III has been a vocal supporter of sports betting
  • A senate committee heard three separate bills Wednesday
  • There are also discussion on legalizing slot machines

Members of the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee met Wednesday to hear bills on potential sports betting and slot machine legislation.

Among the attendees was St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, who has been an outspoken supporter of many failed movements to legalize sports betting in The Show-Me State. He encouraged senators to combine parts from the bills in a massive overhaul of the gaming ecosystem.

Missouri is one of 14 states that have not legalized sports betting, but the pressure to do so is being heaped on.

Years of stagnancy

A total of three bills were heard in Missouri’s capitol Wednesday. The first was a simple plan to legalize sports betting. The second called for the introduction of regulated slot machines to help rid rest stops, bars and restaurants, gas stations, and other common places of illegal gaming machines.

The third bill combined the main points of the first two bills into one.

“We feel like it’s a bill that has a lot of stuff in there for everybody,” DeWitt said.

Despite the Cardinals president’s and pro-gaming lobbyists' optimism, that plan has been a source of fierce contention in recent years.

Earlier in February, there were over 250,000 attempts by Missourans to place wagers on the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. All of those attempts were in vain, but it was another sign that locals are itching to participate in a legal sports betting market.

“It’s a significant loss for Missouri,” said Sean Ostrow, a lobbyist for the Sports Betting Alliance, which represents several top sportsbooks. “Hundreds of thousands of people want to be able to bet on their favorite teams.”

Wednesday’s meeting ran for over two hours and reminded those present of the problems that have prevented the state from legalizing sports betting in the past. Many lawmakers flat-out oppose sports betting, while others want to wait until illegal gaming machines have been removed from their many locations—however, that has proven hard to do, as illegal gaming has increased in recent years.

A market in wait

The bill that combined principles of sports betting and gaming, specifically with lottery terminals, is sponsored by Warrensburg Republican Denny Hoskins. He has been active in the conversation to legalize gaming in Missouri over the years and feels that this year could mark a breakthrough.

“Each year we put off creating a legal option, the illegal industry grows,” Hoskins told the committee. According to his estimates, legalizing slot machines could add an extra $250 million to state annual revenue.

Another important figure on-hand Wednesday, also from the sports world, was Kansas City Royals chief legal officer Adam Sachs. His verdict on sports betting was short and simple.

“Patrick Mahomes thinks it’s a good idea and so do we,” said Sachs.

People affiliated with the St. Louis Blues and St. Louis City soccer club also shared their support of sports betting and encouraged lawmakers to reach a resolution.

If lawmakers decide to legalize sports betting, one of the many issues they will have to decide on is the tax rate. The standalone sports betting bill, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) calls for a rate of 10%, much lower than the 21% tax on the state’s 13 casinos. He estimates his plan would free up an extra $29 million annually, $500,000 of which would be put towards funding problem gambling treatment.

The committee also heard how legalizing slot machines could assist local businesses. One bar owner said that she does not allow illegal machines on her property but could use funding from legal machines to hire more workers and attract more customers.

Florissant Mayor Tim Lowery also revealed that he has stopped trying to fight the spread of illegal machines because businesses need them to remain competitive, which is more reason to legalize slots.

Several other states, such as Georgia, are also fervently discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting.

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.