Hopes for passing sports wagering bill fade in Missouri Senate

(The Center Square) – Hopes for legalized sports betting faded in the Missouri Senate this week due to a conflict over video lottery terminals.

“You know, I’m always optimistic and try to be optimistic,” Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, told reports on Thursday. “but I think the chances are pretty slim right now.”

Hoskins said he was promised by Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, clear paths to pass both his bill on video lottery terminals (SB642) and sports wagering (SB643). But during floor debate, Hoskins said amendments introduced to hinder video lottery and lower the resulting revenue ended the possibility of passage.

“I’ve been a very supportive of sports book as well as video lottery terminals,” Hoskins said. “The video lottery terminal portion of the bill would have been $45 million for our veterans homes and cemeteries, as well as education, by putting them in fraternal and veterans organizations such as American Legions and VFWs, as well as some truck stops. The sports book portion of the bill only provides $10 million. … The sports book portion basically is a corporate giveaway towards casinos.”

Leaders of both parties expressed frustration over the inability to pass sports wagering.

“I get that question more than any other question when I go to weddings or birthday parties,” said Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Kansas City.

Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, was distressed to learn sports wagering might become legal in Kansas before Missouri.

“Yeah, that sucks,” Rowden said. “I mean if they get it done before we do. It’s frustrating and I always say the common sense stuff in this building usually has the hardest time getting across the finish line because people feel like they can take a jab at it.”

Rizzo said the legislature should create stronger “gray market” video lottery terminal regulations.

“For me personally, I am adamant that I do not want some kid to go into a gas station to buy a Gatorade after basketball practice and pass five VLT machines with someone sitting there with an oxygen tank and smoking a cigarette,” Rizzo said. “I have stopped many times on I-70 to use the bathroom at a gas station and a lot of times they’re not gas stations. They’re gambling halls. And there’s no regulations, no rules. So for that matter, I do believe that that there needs to be some regulation.”

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