May 05, 2022

Missouri sports betting bill, co-sponsored by Hegeman and Luetkemeyer, unlikely to pass this session

Posted May 05, 2022 6:15 PM
Senator Tony Luetkemeyer. Stock photo.
Senator Tony Luetkemeyer. Stock photo.


St. Joseph Post

The odds of Missourians being able to bet on their favorite sports teams later this year are dwindling, as the end of the Missouri legislative session draws near.

The Missouri House approved sports betting legislation back in March for anyone 21 and older to place wagers online or inside sports venues and casinos. But in the Senate, members can’t find a path forward, and it comes back to regulating slot machines.

State Senator Tony Luetkemeyer of Parkville co-sponsored sports betting legislation with senator Dan Hegeman of Cosby. Luetkemeyer says this legislation is needed in order to reign the illegal sports betting happening in the state right now.

"We know there's a huge, illegal gray market of illegal sports betting that's happening in Missouri right now," Luetkemeyer said. "These fly-by-night operations that are allowing people to place bets and the fact is, they're unregulated."

A big point of contention  with this legislation is video lottery games, like slot machines, which are unregulated and illegal in many cases. An amendment was added by Senator Mike Bernskoetter of Jefferson City in the last week that would do away with all slot machines in the state, leading to a lengthy filibuster.

Luetkemeyer says it's frustrating that Missouri hasn't been able to find a path forward when it comes to legalizing sports betting.

"You're going to start seeing people going across state lines to place bets, which means education dollars are going to be going to Kansas, Illinois and Iowa rather than staying here in Missouri classrooms."

Last week, Kansas lawmakers approved sports betting and Governor Laura Kelly is expected to sign it, meaning it would be legal to some degree in all of Missouri’s bordering states.

If approved, sports betting is estimated to bring in more than $10 million annually to the state, with most of that going toward education.

Luetkemeyer says another top concern is Kansas trying to lure the Chiefs away from Missouri over this issue. If sports betting passes, Luetkemeyer says the Chiefs and other professional teams in Missouri would run their own sports betting app.

"If a sports team in Missouri, whether it's the Royals or the Chiefs," Luetkemeyer said, "if they ever relocate to another state, they lose the ability to have one of those mobile betting apps that markets to their team. If you're going to benefit from that, you need to be a Missouri-based sports team. You don't need to be going to another state."

Kansas' bill says 80 percent of the revenues generated from sports betting would go into a fund to provide incentives for professional teams to come to Kansas.

The Supreme Court struck down a federal law in 2018 against sports betting. Since then, more than 30 states have legalized it, including Illinois, Iowa and now Kansas.

Missouri's legislative session concludes on May 13.

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