Lawmakers Seem to Favor Missouri Legal Sports Betting Entering 2023

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Lawmakers Seem to Favor Missouri Legal Sports Betting Entering 2023

After sports betting in Missouri failed to pass through the 2022 general assembly meetings, many prominent officials are trying to ensure it becomes more of a priority at the next round of discussions. In fact, we'd go as far as saying most lawmakers seem to favor Missouri legal sports betting entering 2023.

Does this widespread support for legal gambling throughout the Show-Me State mean the latest push will actually be successful? That's a separate matter entirely. Missouri needs plenty of bi-partisan support to pass a sports betting bill, but pro-gambling officials also need Governor Mike Parson to properly prioritize the matter. And as we've seen in the past, getting Parson to put sports betting near the top of the to-do list has proven difficult.

Granted, things might be different this time around. The legalization of sports betting in Kansas has put a ton of pressure on Missouri. As their closest neighbor, Kansas is generating tons of sports betting revenue from Missouri residents willing to make the quick drive across state lines. The calls to capitalize on profits quite literally leaving the region are growing louder by the week as a result.

Of course, to some extent, this has always been the argument. "Legalize sports betting because it's happening anyway!" has long been a rallying cry for pro-gambling voters and officials. That stance is valid. And it's driven most of the United States to legalize sports betting in some form. But that logic is easier to ignore when you're only competing with highly reviewed online sportsbooks that don't restrict customer accounts based on where they live. It becomes much harder to fight when the money you're losing can be quantified by your neighboring state.

Regardless, the first step to Missouri legalizing sports betting is getting the issue front and center during the 2023 general assembly. And we have a feeling that's exactly what will happen given how many have spoken out in favor of it.

Missouri Lawmakers Call for Legal Sports Betting with Increasing Volume

Emily Manley of Fox 2 in Missouri rallied a handful of comments from different state officials on the subject of sports betting. And it is telling how many of them not only favor legal gambling, but how many of them seem actively frustrated by what happened this past year.

“If I go home next May or I’m at my next fantasy football draft without sports betting, they are going to put me out on a rail,” Missouri Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo said. “We’ve got to do whatever it is we need to do to get it done. My constituents want it, but more importantly, it’s just something this state needs to get done.”

Rizzo is not speaking offhandedly or without evidence when he says Missouri constituents want legal sports betting. The Kansas sports betting launch showed once and for all just how many residents want the chance to place wagers. And there's data to back it up.

“[There were] over 340,000 attempts by Missourians to access Kansas sports books [during the state's sports betting launch]," Missouri State Representative Kurtis Gregory told the House Emerging Issues Committee, according to Manley. "Fifty-seven percent of those attempts came from Kansas City, Missouri."

It's not clear whether the data cited by Representative Gregory is individualized or if it includes anyone who attempted to access Kansas sports books more than once. However, if 340,000 Missourians did try to bet on sports in Kansas during their opening launch, this would represent over five percent of the state's entire population. No matter where you land on sports betting, that's a number Missouri needs to take seriously. If that's how many residents are willing to try gambling on sports when it's not legal, just imagine how high the number climbs if it's actually legalized.

Is Missouri Governor Mike Parson Coming Around to Legal Sports Betting?

In the past, Governor Parson has generally favored tax matters when making the agenda for general assembly meetings. In 2022, for instance, the primary focus was tax credits for farmers and a reconstruction of the overall state income tax. He bristled when his peers bemoaned the lack of commitment to sports betting. And he was even more stubborn when some suggested he call a special session to discuss it.

This comes across as a red flag entering the 2023 meetings. Or maybe not. From the sounds of things, Parson seems to be coming around to legal sports betting.

“All of a sudden, people can go over there and do their thing on that and Missouri can’t,” Parson said. “We’ll see how it all plays out but that’s the General Assembly’s thing...I think it’s going to be one of those things that’s coming when the day comes. The day is going to happen but that needs to go through the legislative process, and it goes in there year in and year out.”

While this is far from a glowing endorsement, it's as close as Parson has come to advocating for legal sports betting in Missouri. And with only a small number of tax issues on the docket for the 2023 legislative sessions this coming January, it sure seems like this is the best chance the state has of pushing through a sports betting bill.

Unfortunately, we won't know for sure until the meetings actually get underway in a few weeks time.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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