The Path to Missouri Sports Betting May Soon Get Easier

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 8, 2023 12:00 AM
Hope rising that Missouri sports betting can get legalized in 2024.

This time next year, could we be talking about a scheduled rollout for sports betting in Missouri?

While this remains a question without a definitive answer, the prospects for Missouri sports betting are potentially on the rise. And it's not because support is on a dramatic upswing. Nor is it about voter sentiment. It isn't even about a key lawmaker going from a sports betting opponent to an advocate.

Of course, all of those factors could be in play when the Missouri state legislature reconvenes at the start of 2024. But right now, the outlook appears slightly rosier, albeit only hypothetically, because of Senator Denny Hoskins. 

Yes, this is the same Senator Denny Hoskins who has been deemed responsible for scuttling Missouri sports betting legislature in the past. It is also the same Senator Denny Hoskins who has denied being the reason that gambling bills have failed to make it through the Senate on numerous occasions.

Why is the person most commonly blamed for failed Missouri sports betting bids suddenly part of the solution? Read on to find out.

Could Denny Hoskins be Leaving the Missouri State Senate?

There have been rumblings for months that Senator Hoskins might consider running for a different office. A few weeks ago, those rumors became fact. Senator Hoskins has announced he intends to run for Secretary of State, and from the sound of things, he's pretty serious about it. 

From Brady Hays of The Missouri Times:

"State Senator Denny Hoskins has announced his candidacy to be Missouri’s 41st Secretary of State, replacing current Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who is running for Governor in 2024. 'I am humbled and honored to announce I am running for Secretary of State. This is not something we take lightly, we have had a lot of prayer and support, but it is very exciting and we are all excited,' Hoskins said...Hoskins, who hinted about running for statewide office during the 2023 legislative session, has already raised over $200,000 between his PAC and candidate committee."

Declaring your candidacy is much different from successfully taking office. Hoskins still has to win the post, and he will not be running unopposed. "Former State Representative and current Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller also plans to cast his name on the 2024 ballot," according to The Missouri Times. Schoeller actually won the Republican nomination for Secretary of State all the way back in 2012. He ended up losing the general election.

Still, despite having real competition, Hoskins is considered by many to be the early favorite. Missouri residents have now repeatedly re-elected him to his current post. Hoskins has also raised more than seven times the campaign funding compared to Ashcroft ($200,000 versus $28,000). If there were betting odds on who will be the next Secretary of State, they would probably favor Hoskins.

Why Senator Hoskins Becoming Secretary of State Could be Important for Missouri Sports Betting

How does all of this tie into the future of Missouri sports betting? It's simple, really. Hoskins is considered a driving force behind failed sports gambling bids. If he's no longer part of the Senate, his stance won't hold nearly as much weight.

This is not meant to imply Senator Hoskins is against sports betting. On the contrary, he supports it. But his insistence on shoehorning video lottery terminals into sports betting legislature has derailed at least two gambling bills over the past couple of years. 

Many officials in the Senate are open to on-site wagering. The most recent initiative also would have legalized the right to bet with the top online sportsbooks in the United States. But these VLTs have been a much tougher sell. Officials believe they are incredibly difficult to regulate, and that legalizing them would actually increase the number of black-market VLTs operating throughout the state.

Senator Hoskins has openly disagreed with this stance. He has also stated, repeatedly, that he's not among those most responsible for cratering Missouri sports betting initiatives. However, his actions suggest the exact opposite. This year alone, he participated in sports betting filibusters throughout the legislature sessions, ostensibly with the sole goal of advancing his VLT agenda or shuddering the entire sports gambling attempt.

Has the Timeline for Missouri Sports Betting Changed?

If the House of Representatives and Senate no longer have to grapple with Senator Hoskins' commitment to legalizing video lottery terminals, it stands to reason that the approval of sports betting is much more likely. But whether his potential exit accelerates the timeline remains to be seen.

Missouri cannot pass a sports betting bill until another round of legislative meetings, which will take place at the beginning of next year. That will give them one shot to agree on an initiative before the 2024 general election. If they can't cobble something together in time for that November, they will likely need to wait until 2026 to legalize sports betting.

Mind you, this all presumes Senator Hoskins will no longer be an obstacle throughout the process. There's no guarantee that's the case. He is not the Secretary of State yet. Heck, he may never be. And if he retains his spot in the Senate, the fate of sports betting in Missouri may still hinge on acquiescing to his VLT agenda or convincing him to table it for the foreseeable future.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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