Video Lottery Terminals

  • There are currently six Missouri sports betting bills introduced in the state senate.
  • Casinos are lobbying to have retail and mobile sports betting in Missouri run through their current operations.
  • Video Lottery Terminals are legal in neighboring states and currently operate in a grey market in Missouri.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs, along with other MO sports franchises are backing a bill that would pay them for official league data.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With only a few days until the Kansas City Chiefs play in their second straight Super Bowl, lawmakers are trying to legalize sports betting in Missouri for the second straight year.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations committee held a hearing for the Senate Bill 256 and Senate Bill 17. Lobbyists and various stakeholders spoke in favor or against these bills, but neither managed to pass the committee.

There are six MO sports betting bills that have been filed for the 2021 legislative session, but these two bills are what kicked off the conversation this year.

The Argument For Senate Bill 256

MO SB 256 is sponsored by Senator Caleb Rowden. The bill would legalize sportsbooks inside of the state’s riverboat casinos or through statewide online sportsbooks partnered with these casinos.

The model follows that of most states with legal sports betting and has the support of Mark Winter, Executive Director of the Missouri Gaming Association.

“All of this is taking place in the illegal market now. We’re trying to bring it out of the illegal market, bring it into a legal regulated environment where we can be assured that bets are handled proper, consumers are treated fairly and those who have issues with gambling cannot participate,” said Mike Winter with the Missouri Gaming Association.

However, Winter was challenged by Senator Denny Hoskins, who has filed a bill to legalize sports betting in Missouri along with Video Lottery Terminals (VLT).

Those in Missouri’s casino market are strongly opposed to VLTs, claiming that the losses they would incur from them would outweigh any gains made from offering legal sports betting. People would simply patronize the VLTs rather than go to the casinos themselves.

“Sports wagering is already happening. We might as well legalize it,” said Hoskins during the hearing. “That’s my argument for video lottery terminals as well.”

The battle for VLT legalization could be tied into any piece of legislation trying to pass this session.

What Comes In Senate Bill 17

MO SB 17 would offer another route to attain legal sports betting in 2021. But, this measure also comes with a controversial rule.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer, would also pay professional sports leagues a fee for supplying official league data.

“Consumers deserve to know that their bets are being settled using reliable, verified information… directly from the leagues and distributed real-time to mitigate the risk of incorrect results for consumers,” said Luetkemeyer. “In the absence of this, consumers would have to rely on data that is pirated, web scraping or collected covertly in stadiums.”

His bill would also provide “entertainment zones” surrounding the six professional sports stadiums in Missouri.

Representatives of the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Cardinals, and St. Louis Blues all came out in support of this bill.

However, other lawmakers argued that sports betting already only brings in a minimal amount of returns and paying sports leagues would lessen those returns even further.

Neither bill passed the committee and there is no set timeline for the next time they will be heard. There also has not been a date set for the remaining bills to be heard.

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