(The Center Square) – Legal sports wagering was expected to set records on Sunday, but Missourians weren’t able to bet on their National Football League team in the championship.
Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs living in Missouri weren’t able to legally wager on the game against the Philadelphia Eagles. A bill to legalize sports wagering was passed last year by the Missouri House of Representatives but died in the Senate. Casino interests clashed with those of the video lottery terminal industry, currently illegal in the state.
A record 50.4 million American adults were expected to place a bet on Sunday’s game, a 61% increase from the record set last year, according to the American Gaming Association. Approximately $16 billion was forecast to be wagered, more than double last year’s estimated amount.
Live sports betting is legal in 33 states and Washington, D.C., according to the association, and more than half of American adults live in a legal sports betting market.
Even though the Kansas Legislature passed sports wagering last year, Missourians aren’t able to place a bet across state lines, as online technology blocks access.
Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, told reporters on Thursday supporters of both the video lottery and casinos must reach an agreement for a sports wagering bill to pass during this year’s legislative session. He added that sports wagering passed more easily in other states surrounding Missouri because video lottery wasn’t an issue.
“I think it’s time to do this,” Rowden said. “I’ve been vocal about it and said bad things about Kansas and everything else. But this is not a problem I can wave a magic wand and fix. I don’t care who gets the blame. But I’m done standing in the middle of a fight that, for the moment, has folks on both sides who just don’t seem to be interested in anything but their own self interests.”
Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, expressed similar frustration.
“I’m all for sports betting,” Rizzo said last year after Republican Gov. Mike Parson called a special session to pass a tax cut. “I think that if I go back home next May or if I’m at my next fantasy football draft without sports betting, they’re going to put me out on a rail. We have to do whatever it is we need to do to get it done.”
Rowden said the level of taxation on winnings isn’t a deal breaker, nor is the amount of revenue crucial.
“I think they should be taxed and the state should get its share,” Rowden said. “I’m not really interested in how some folks use this narrative. I’m not really interested in only doing the thing that makes the most money for this state. That’s not my general ambition on most anything that we do. So you make it fair for the consumer, you make it valuable – somehow – for the folks like casinos and others that are putting the bets out there and we move down the road.”
Rizzo placed the burden of passage on the Republicans.
“The people, my constituents, want it,” Rizzo said last year. “But more importantly, it’s just something that this state needs to get done. As I said previously, it’s embarrassing that the Republican majority has not been able to figure out how to get that done.”