Sports bettors wagered billions of dollars on Super Bowl 58 Sunday. However, the lack of legal, regulated Missouri sports betting left many fans of the back-to-back NFL champions out in the cold.
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 Sunday night in Las Vegas. With the industry illegal in the Show-Me State, many fans of the Chiefs were left without legal options for the biggest sports betting event of the year.
Why isn’t Missouri sports betting legal?
Sports betting is legal in seven of Missouri’s neighbors. Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas all have either retail or online sports betting options.
However, Missouri sports betting has been stonewalled in the state legislature for several years in a row. The issue has significant bipartisan support behind it, but it’s been running into a brick wall in the form of Missouri Sen. Denny Hoskins.
Hoskins considers himself a sports betting supporter. However, he’s argued that any Missouri sports betting legislation must also address video lottery terminals (or VLTs). This is not an opinion held by many of his constituents, who largely believe the two issues to be separate ones.
Several bills were considered during the 2023 legislative session. However, Hoskins used his authority to essentially block the pieces of legislation from becoming law. 2024 figures to bring more of the same, leaving Missouri without legal sports betting for at least another eight months.
There’s some positive momentum, however
Frustration in Missouri is building, and it’s reached a fever pitch with owners of several professional teams in the state. They’ve formed a coalition that’s currently gathering signatures for ballot initiatives that could be up for public votes this coming Election Day.
A successful ballot initiative would bypass the state legislature and allow Missourians themselves to decide the fate of sports betting in the state. Each petition must garner between 171,592 and 188,537 signatures, depending on which Missouri district is chosen by the parties behind the effort.
In addition, Hoskins is term-limited and will leave his post in January of 2025. While Hoskins’s removal does not guarantee a Missouri sports betting bill will pass through the legislature, it should make the process considerably smoother and give such a bill every chance.