The Missouri Senate is again unable to reach agreement on sports betting legislation

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate voted against allowing video lottery gaming Wednesday night but failed to get a bill authorizing sports betting to a vote.

A Senate impasse on expanded gambling has blocked bills legalizing sports betting in each of the last two terms. In both years like it done again this yearThe Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill negotiated by casino operators and major sports leagues, only to see it fail in the Senate, where a handful of lawmakers insist it should not pass without provisions to legalize video lottery machines.

Sports Betting Act sponsor Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer said he was happy to win the video lottery vote, but noted that defeat will not be enough to calm opponents of the Sports Betting Act.

“I’m under no illusions,” said Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, as the Senate adjourned after nearly eight hours of debating his bill. “It’s still a tough fight. We will continue these talks and see if they bear fruit.”

Opposition to Luetkemeyer’s bill was led by Senator Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, who sponsored a bill to that effect Both forms of gambling allowed. Hoskins’ opposition to Luetkemeyer’s bill hardened in February after the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected his bill.

At the start of the debate, Hoskins urged sports betting advocates to support video lottery terminals, arguing that they would crowd out the thousands of unregulated machines in bars, truck stops and convenience stores. efforts to Control of the unregulated machines by the public prosecutor were not successful.

“I’ve heard a lot from casinos that we need to crack down on the ‘unregulated’ machines,” Hoskins said.

An amendment proposed by Senator Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, that would allow up to three video lottery machines in each licensed bar, truck stop or fraternity hall fell 11-20 votes down.

When the bill was introduced, it was almost identical to the bill passed by the House that would enact the sports betting program created by casinos and major professional sports teams.

It would allow each licensed casino to offer customers three betting platforms or skins, with a limit of six per casino entity. Each of the major league sports teams could contract with a platform to offer branded betting under their name and would be given a restricted zone around their arena where only the branded platform could be promoted.

Anyone over the age of 21 could download a sports betting application onto their phone or computer and place bets from anywhere in the state.

However, the Senate made significant changes to how sports betting revenue is split in the bill. An amendment by Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, increased the tax rate from 10% to 15%. Sen. Steve Roberts, D-St. Louis, added a change that would increase the boarding fee at casinos to $4. The fee is currently $2 and has not changed since casino gambling began in Missouri in 1992.

Roberts also added an amendment to charge the fee for using a remote betting application.

If the fee had been adjusted for inflation since its inception, Roberts said it would be $4.16. That means, he said, casinos are “saving more money on admissions than home dock cities are making.”

The conflict between supporters of sports betting and those who want to allow video lottery gameshas blocked the passage of bothfor multiple sessions. Casinos and major professional sports teams have worked together over the past two sessions to pass market-dividing legislation, with a phalanx of lobbyists working to get lawmakers to approve it.

Video lottery machine marketers, with their own corps of lobbyists, have argued that any bill that expands gambling should focus on maximizing revenue for the state, not the private sector.

And all Wednesday, these lobbyists met in groups with senators to plan strategy or prepare for the next change.

Lawmakers are under pressure to legalize sports betting, both to appease voters and to keep Missouri in line with surrounding states. Only Oklahoma among the eight states surrounding Missouri has not sanctioned sports betting.

Kentucky was the youngest state to legalize sports betting after Governor Andy Beshear signed a bill last week Allowing sports betting on the state’s thoroughbred tracks.

More than 200,000 Missourians already have sports betting accounts, and they travel to Kansas, Illinois or another state to place bets. MEPs said at the start of the session that this was the most common question raised by voters during last year’s election campaign.

For some legislators, any bill that satisfies this market is sufficient.

“I’d like to finish,” Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said during the debate. “I worry a little less about what the content ends up being than some people.”

Schroer tried unsuccessfully to add XFL and Major League Rugby teams to the list of professional sports franchises eligible to sponsor betting sites. He also said it was important that some form of the bill be passed.

“If we go home in May without addressing these issues, which people have been very vocal about,” Schroer said, “it’s a bit embarrassing.” The Missouri Senate is again unable to reach agreement on sports betting legislation

Sarah Y. Kim

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