The Same Senator Once Again Scuttles Missouri Sports Betting Efforts

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: May 23, 2023 08:00 PM
The Same Senator Once Again Scuttles Missouri Sports Betting Efforts

Better luck next year to folks in The Show-Me State. Missouri sports betting isn't happening this time around. Again. Just like last year.

With less than one month to go before legislative sessions adjourned, it became clear state lawmakers would not legalize Missouri sports betting. Fast forward to now. The legislative sessions have ended. Sports gambling in Missouri has yet to be legalized, failing yet again to make it past the Senate. 

And yet, while this year's legal wagering bills died in the Senate, a lion's share of the responsibility is falling on one person: Senator Denny Hoskins.

Why Missouri Sports Betting Won't Be Legalized in 2023

After scuttling previous efforts to legalize sports betting in Missouri, it seems Senator Hoskins yet again used his influence to stall a pair of 2023 proposals. Here's Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report with what's become an all too familiar tale:

"A gridlocked Senate once again ensured Missouri sports betting legislation did not pass this year. Despite passing the House handily again this session, Missouri sports betting legislation ran into an inhospitable Senate. The Missouri legislature adjourned Friday without sending sports betting legislation to Gov. Mike Parsons. During filibusters on Thursday and Friday, lawmakers at times blamed sports betting for the stall. Despite those claims, industry sources told LSR 'good-faith negotiations' had already ended. The sports betting impasse is connected to Sen. Denny Hoskins, who wants sports betting tied to regulatory language for video lottery terminals. Hoskins has also participated in filibusters throughout the session, including an eight-hour stand on April 5 to block a sports betting bill.

If you're getting deja vu, you're not alone. Senator Hoskins led an effort to legalize video lottery terminals throughout the state in 2022. The end result was the same: Discussions for sports betting in Missouri came to a screeching halt without gaining any real traction in the Senate.

One person doesn't technically shape state-wide policies. But Hoskins has expended a lot of energy derailing the push for sports gambling in The Show-Me State. His filibustering—which is an act that delays entire votes, usually through speeches of inordinate lengths—is equal parts well-known and relentless. And when video lottery terminals are once again at the center of failed sports betting efforts, it's tough to attribute the latest inaction to anyone other than Senator Hoskins.

Senator Hoskins Claims He Did Not Derail Missouri Sports Gambling Campaign This Year

For his part, Senator Hoskins refutes the notion that he single-handedly ran Missouri's sports betting efforts afield. In fact, during recent interviews, he denied having any hand in the bill opposition at all. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"Hoskins said Tuesday he accepts being blamed for holding up the issue, but said he doesn’t control the two sports betting bills that are pending in the upper chamber. The House version is in the Senate Appropriations Committee and hasn’t been scheduled for a hearing. A separate version sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, was the subject of eight hours of debate on April 5, but has sat on the shelf since. 'I know I get a lot of the blame for sports betting not passing but neither one of these bills are mine,' Hoskins said. 'I don’t control them.'"

Senator Hoskins' comments may be true in the literal sense. He did not propose the two sports betting bills that made their way through the Missouri legislature this year. However, he is considered responsible for pushing the video lottery terminals in the state. No other lawmaker has been a bigger or louder advocate.

It's also, let's say, questionable for Senator Hoskins to plead detachment given his actions. When Senate members yet again voted against the inclusion of video lottery terminals this past April, Hoskins played a key role in delaying further sports betting discussions. Would he have really done that if he were even one step removed from the gambling bills? Of course. Just because he didn't propose these sports betting bills or shepherd them through the House and Senate doesn't mean he's not intimately involved in them.

How Sports Betting Opponents Have Impacted the Missouri Legislative Process

A common question that arises after each failed sports betting attempt in Missouri: How can Senator Hoskins effectively derail entire campaigns? To be honest, it's not that complicated. And to be even more honest, Senator Hoskins doesn't stand alone. Others have made claims that legal wagering bills simply don't have the necessary support in the Senate to be put to a vote.

This stance, while not unexpected, is fairly puzzling. It might be flat-out disingenuous Missouri sports betting has a huge swathe of supporters throughout the House of Representatives. Multiple polls have also shown that a majority of Missourians favor some form of legal sports gambling. What's more, numerous polls have indicated that many people in Missouri are already betting with the best online sportsbooks in the off-shore industry. These operators are considered extremely safe and reliable and generally have no issue allowing almost anyone in the United States to create and service an account.

Let's also not forget that Missouri sports betting isn't being rejected on the merits of the opposition. Detractors derail via delays. They belabor and extend discussions to run past deadlines or until the Senate gets fed up and moves on to more pressing issues. That's what happened this year. Missouri had what they considered an important and complicated crime bill on the table. With time running short on the legislative sessions, they opted to move on and table sports betting negotiations.

Many lawmakers were frustrated by this development. They acknowledge that Missourians are basically in overwhelming support of sports betting legalization. And they see these constant holdups and failures as undermining their constituents.

What happens next is anyone's guess. The issue is done for 2023. It will surely be approached again in 2024. Whether the end result changes is a different story. Missouri needs to find a way around Senator Hoskins' stubborn filibustering for video lottery terminals. If they can't, they may have to relent and add them to the next bill. Or they'll need him to change his stance. Failing that, there's always the more unresolved alternative: Allowing Missouri sports betting to remain in a state of constant lurch, with no concrete end in sight.

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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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