Here's the Biggest Obstacle Facing Legal Missouri Sports Betting

Here's the Biggest Obstacle Facing Legal Missouri Sports Betting

All around the United States, the future of sports betting played out during the November 8 elections. Some states saw governor and senator results sway the balance of power on the subject. Other states saw their chances of legal sports betting dwindle. A few saw them rise. Even states with legal sports betting saw the potential for some rules to change. But when it came to legal Missouri sports betting, election season had little to no impact on its future.

This isn't going to sit well with residents ready to board the gambling bandwagon. The wait for sports betting throughout Missouri has been a long one. Various forms of legislation have been proposed since 2018, when they were first allowed by the federal government. But the Show-Me State has so far been unsuccessful in pushing a bill to the bring of becoming a law. 

In instances like this, the question of "why" isn't so simple. There are normally a host of issues preventing legal sports betting from getting a state-wide stamp approval. In this case, however, there is one prevailing reason legal Missouri sports betting keeps falling through. And it can be summed up in three letters: VGT.

The Argument Over Video Gambling Terminals is Defining the Failure of Legal Missouri Sports Betting

For anyone who doesn't already know, "VGT" stands for "video gamble terminal." They are electronic machines that allow people to gamble on-site and digitally, and they are typically found in everything from casinos and airports to bars, card rooms and small businesses that sell lottery tickets, among other places. 

Generally speaking, video gambling terminals are not especially common. States like Nevada have liberally scattered them throughout the region. But most places prefer to focus their gambling access to central locations. The concern is that peppering video game terminals throughout the state will dissuade people from taking their business to full-fledged casinos or larger on-site sportsbooks.

Many government officials in Missouri share this sentiment. But state senator Denny Hoskins isn't one of them. He has aggressively pushed for video game terminals to be part of any legal Missouri sports betting bill. And yet, he hasn't been able to generate enough bi-partisan for it to receive the green light.

This wouldn't be a huge issue if Hoskins and his supporters were willing to table video gambling terminal access. To this point, they have not proven to be that flexible. In fact, at the last round of legislation meetings, the inclusion of video gambling terminals ended up derailing Missouri's entire bid for legal sports betting.

Here's How Video Gambling Terminals Blew Up Legal Sports Betting in Missouri

Earlier in 2022, it looked like Missouri might take the plunge into legal sports betting. Though there is a strong anti-gambling sentiment inside the state's government, support for some form of sports betting began mounting.

Believe it or not, legal sports betting coming to Kansas has a lot to do with the shifting feelings in Missouri. Kansas is Missouri's incredibly close neighbor. State officials are worried they'll be losing a ton of revenue to people who journey across state lines to place bets. Some members of the Missouri government are also cognizant that Kansas is hoping to make a bid for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs when their current lease in Kansas City, Missouri, is up in a few years. The legalization of sports betting and the revenue stream it opens up for pro sports teams is seen as one way of ensuring the Chiefs don't relocate down the line.

However, just when it looked like Missouri would legalize sports betting, Senator Hoskins tacked on a provision for video gambling terminals at the last minute. And as Steve Ruddock wrote for, this did not go over well:

"Missouri lawmakers didn’t vote against sports betting in 2022. They voted against VGTs, with lawmakers divided about adding VGTs to the sports betting bill...There is a robust anti-gambling vote in the Missouri legislature, and while sports betting has majority support, many see VGTs as a step too far. The addition of VGTs turns that majority into a minority. The two issues were initially separated in 2022. That didn’t last long, as VGTs were tacked on to the state’s sports betting bill at the last minute by State Sen. Denny Hoskins when independent VGT efforts stalled. Hoskins is a longtime supporter of VGTs and has derailed sports betting legislation for several years, refusing to let it move forward without VGTs in tow."

With Hoskins set to remain in office through at least 2025, this problem isn't going way. So, what does that mean for Missouri sports betting?

The Wait for Sports Betting in the Show-Me State Could be a While

In recent weeks, there have been signs that Missouri sports betting is gaining momentum entering 2023. With that said, we would caution you against buying into it.

Similar buzz bubbled to the surface this year, only for the latest sports betting bill to implode. Hoskins and his supporters have now complicated multiple attempts to legalize gambling with their insistence of including video gambling terminals. We shouldn't trust them to change their agenda until they actually change it.

That puts Missouri residents who want to bet on sports in a bind. But they are not without options. Kansas and other neighboring states with legal sports betting are within driving distance for many. Missourians can also sign up with many of the sites that appear in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks.

By the way: These alternatives will remain necessities even if Hoskins and company don't derail the next Missouri sports betting campaign. The earliest any initiative can hit voter ballots at this point in 2024. That means the rollout of legal Missouri sports betting probably wouldn't happen before 2025.

And that's assuming there's a drastic change in how Hoskins operates. Put another way: Get comfortable, Missouri. The wait for sports betting will be a while.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one works for all of your sports betting needs:

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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