April 29, 2021 Casino, Legal, Land-Based

Missouri Senate rejects gambling expansion bill

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Missouri’s efforts to expand gambling will likely have to wait at least another year.

The Missouri Senate has voted down a bill that would have authorized 10,000 video game terminals, allowed the state’s Gaming Commission to license sports betting at casinos, and stamped down on illegal video gaming terminals.

Senate Bill 98, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) was defeated two weeks before lawmakers adjourn for the 2021 legislative sessions. Legislators are unlikely to take up gambling expansion again this year.

SB 98 faced resistance from MGC Chairman Mike Leara, who told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the MGC lacks enough employees to properly oversee the regulation and distribution of video game terminals.

The bill proposes allowing VGTs in truck stops, bars and fraternal and veterans’ organizations. Machines would be capped at five per location.  

“That would be a burden on us,” Leara told the Post-Dispatch. “We don’t have the staff on the books to do that.”

SB 98 would have regulated VGTs, which operate under a gray market in Missouri. The News Tribune in Jefferson City reports there are between 14,000 – 20,000 VGTs in the state, mostly at convenience stores and other retail locations.

The Missouri Highway Patrol, not the MGC, reports on VGT complaints, but reports rarely lead to charges.

The vote against SB 98 is also a setback for advocates of regulated sports betting. Missouri is on paper an ideal midsized market for sports wagering, with four professional sports teams and several NCAA Division I athletic programs.

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