JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A successful Thursday at the Missouri State Capitol for those hoping to see sports betting legalized.
Three bills pertaining to sports betting passed out of their respective committees. One of those is SB30, sponsored by State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Republican representing part of Platte County. He’s previously proposed similar legislation but hopes this bill will make it across the finish line.
“It would allow each of the casinos in the state to have a physical sportsbook where somebody could go and place a bet at a window and be able to watch games in the environment,” he said.
Part of his bill also includes a mobile betting component, meaning you could get on your cellphone and place a bet on the Chiefs or whomever by using a betting app.
One big reason he hopes to see the legislation make its way to Governor Mike Parson’s desk is because Missouri is losing money to Kansas and Illinois, two states where sports betting is already legal.
“We are losing educational dollars that would normally go to Missouri schools through the gaming fund to Kansas, and then on the eastern side of the state to Illinois. What that means is those funds that are normally earmarked for our K-12 schools, that money is leaving Missouri and going to subsidize schools in Illinois and Kansas,” he said.
While Luetkemeyer’s bill passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Denny Hoskin’s (R – Warrensburg) bill did not. Senate Bill 1 would have legalized both sports wagering and video lottery terminals, which are betting devices that can be put in gas station and bars.
When FOX4 asked Luetkemeyer why it failed, he said video lottery terminals are a totally separate issue.
“When you put these gaming devices out in other places that don’t have 24-hour security, that don’t have cameras that casinos are required to have, there’s a risk that minors and other youths are going to get access to these things that they’re not supposed to,” he said.
He described it as a regulatory nightmare. Still, Hoskins doesn’t see a way forward for sports betting without the VLT component.
In a statement to FOX4, Hoskins said, “Unfortunately, sportsbook wagering doesn’t provide any money to our veteran’s homes and cemeteries. As a veteran with a veteran’s home and cemetery in my district, we need to honor our commitment to Missouri veterans. The only ones who get rich on sportsbooks are the casinos, and it would be the biggest expansion of gambling in the history of the state of Missouri. However, regulated VLT’s would provide up to $15 million for our veteran’s homes and cemeteries. I will continue to work with my colleagues on a path forward.”
Video lottery terminals are something sports bars like The Blue Line Hockey Bar in Kansas City’s River Market would like to see. Owner Steve Stegall said they just want a piece of the pie that casinos would get.
“That is what we really want. That would help the small man… help us get a piece of the action,” he said.
Still, he thinks the sports wagering bill alone is a step in the right direction.
“I think the sports gambling will help sports bars as far as people will place a bet on their phone and they’ll watch the game at the bar, and if they win, hopefully everybody wins.”