State Senator Believes Missouri Sports Betting will be Legalized...in 2025

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 24, 2024 08:00 PM
State Senator Believes Missouri Sports Betting will be Legalized...in 2025

By and large, the outlook for legal Missouri sports betting has vacillated between hopeless pessimism and cautious optimism. But it’s apparently about to get a whole lot brighter.

Missouri State Senator Tony Luetkemeyer recently said that he believes the Show-Me State will legalize sports gambling soon. No, it’s not expected to happen in 2024. But could sports betting in Missouri be approved in 2025, with a rollout to come soon after, depending on whether its legalization requires voter approval? It’s starting to sound like it.

Many may attribute this progress to a Missouri sports betting proposal spearheaded by the state’s professional sports teams. And that’s not untrue. The measure is a big deal. Sponsored by the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team (MLB), Kansas City Chiefs football team (NFL), the Kansas City Royals baseball team (MLB), Kansas City Current and St. Louis City soccer teams (MLS) and St. Louis Blues hockey team (NHL), the initiative seeks to legalize Missouri sports betting without requiring support of the Senate. Previous sports gambling bills have died on the Senate floor in a way these organizations (and many others) have deemed unfair. This proposal offers an alternative path to legal betting.

And yet, despite these efforts, the odds of sports wagering in Missouri getting legalized in 2024 remain overwhelmingly low. The primary reason why is the same one Senator Luetkemeyer cited in his assessment of the future. And it’s a reason that, frankly, won’t surprise anyone who has paid attention to the Show Me State’s gambling discourse.

Senator Luetkemeyer Believes Waiting Out Senator Denny Hoskins’ Time in Office Holds Key to Missouri Sports Betting

Over the past few years, Missouri state Senator Denny Hoskins scuttled numerous sports betting bills. Mind you, he hasn’t done this because he opposes sports gambling. On the contrary, he supports the idea. However, he’s repeatedly tried shoehorning Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) into every initiative. That agenda isn’t supported by most of the Senate. So, in the face of opposition, he has filibustered and derailed just about every wagering bill on the Senate floor.

It’s unlikely things will be different this year. But as Senator Luetkemeyer explained to St. Louis Public Radio, he’s hopeful that changes in 2025:

“The bill has stalled in prior sessions and is unlikely to pass this year. Senator Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, the main proponent of video lottery terminals, which has stalled sports betting legislation, is serving his final year. Luetkemeyer believes that while there are other senators in support of the gaming machines, he doesn’t think they will obstruct the sports betting legislation after Hoskins is gone. ‘My belief is the people who are supportive of that will want to try to attach it to the bill, but they're not going to go the next further step, which is if they cannot attach a VLT amendment to a clean sports wagering bill, they won't stand up and kill the underlying legislation,’ Luetkemeyer said.”

This should come across as good, verging on great, news to Missouri sports betting proponents. At the same time, it still puts the sports gambling timeline on a years-long trajectory. 

Questions Remain About the Future of Sports Gambling in Missouri

Though Senator Hoskins’ exit could pave the way for successful Missouri sports betting legislation, it doesn’t suddenly mean the state will launch gambling services in 2025.

For one thing, the House and Senate still need to approve a bill. Even if that’s likely, it probably won’t be done before the spring of 2025. And from there, the stay may have to wait for voter approval during a general election. Since there won’t be a bill available on the November 2024 ballot, that means Missouri would wait until November 2026 elections.

Granted, there are ways around this. As we already mentioned, the initiative sponsored by the state’s pro sports teams does not require a constitutional amendment that necessitates voter approval. But there’s no guarantee that this pathway pans out.

Most of the time, if states want the top online sportsbooks in the USA to operate in their market, their sports betting legislation must go to a general election ballot. Exceptions exist. That’s the idea the current sports betting bill is founded around. But we already know the 2024 Missouri sports betting proposal is likely to fail. And if Senator Hoskins is the primary reason why, sponsors may not push this unique legalization model when he’s gone.

What’s a Realistic Timeline for Missouri Sports Betting to be Legalized?

Let us be clear: Everything we’re saying from hereon is purely speculation. From the look of things, though, Missouri sports betting won’t go live before middle to late 2026 or the beginning of 2027.

This sentiment presumes a couple of things. First and foremost, we think Missouri sports gambling legislation will need to appear on a general election ballot. Perhaps it won’t. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. If next year’s bill follows in 2024’s footsteps, it’s likely because policymakers think it’ll face resistance even with Senator Hoskins out of office.

Our projection also operates under the assumption that Missouri will not call for a special sports betting vote. Rolling out a ballot in non-election years is technically plausible. But it’s rare. It’s also usually reserved for the most extreme and pressing matters. The legalization of Missouri sports betting is unlikely to be considered that urgent.

So, yeah, it could be a while before Missourians are able to legally bet on sports in-state. On the bright side for proponents of sports gambling, though, it at least seems like Senator Hoskins’ influence over Show-Me State’s gaming laws won’t last much longer.

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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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