Gambling is a billion-dollar industry in Missouri, with lottery tickets, casino games, and bingo cards driving spending. However, recent years have seen an increase in questionable and illegal gambling activities in convenience stores, truck stops, and small gaming parlors. The issue of legalizing sports wagering is pitting major league teams and casino operators against promoters of legal video lottery games.
The conflict arises from video lottery players being seen as direct competition for slot machines and small-wager gamblers who might place bets during sporting events. Those who operate the machines don’t want any changes to pass, as it could put them out of business. Legal battles and campaign contributions have become part of the political landscape as they attempt to prevent a decision that would label the machines as illegal.
While sports betting is not yet legal in Missouri, the state’s casinos and major league teams have lobbied for a bill that would regulate the market. With unsuccessful attempts at getting this bill passed in the Senate, the sports franchises are considering presenting an initiative for signatures.
Meanwhile, the potential state revenue from legalizing video lottery games is estimated to be even greater than that projected from sports wagering. Despite the potential for massive revenue, the bill filed for legalizing video lottery games does not allow these games in convenience stores and other retail locations offering the gray market games.
The issue remains contentious, with legal battles and undecided legislation. The legalization of both sports wagering and video lottery games is a complex issue in Missouri, and the future of gambling in the state is uncertain.