Missouri Sports Betting Bill Falls Victim to VLT-led Agenda

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Missouri sports betting legalization efforts fell victim Wednesday to a key senator’s efforts to add VLTs into the legislation.

The Senate adjourned without even voting on HB 2502 after Sen. Denny Hoskins made good on his promise. He had promised a filibuster if his version of sports betting did not come up for discussion.

Hoskins wanted to add video lottery terminals into Missouri sports betting.

In a filibuster that prolonged to nearly four hours on Wednesday, the Missouri Senate debated a bill that would regulate statewide mobile and retail sports betting. However, most of the debate had nothing to do with sports betting.

A Wasteful Wednesday!

Before Wednesday, it appeared Missouri would legalize sports betting until Sen. Denny Hoskins and a few of his colleagues insisted on adding video lottery terminals to the Missouri sports betting bill.

Hoskins submitted language to regulate VLTs in the Senate substitute introduced Wednesday.

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter submitted an amendment to remove the addition of the VLTs from the bill, leading to an hours-long filibuster by Hoskins, who made sure the senate adjourned without a vote.

President Pro Tem Dave Schatz adjourned the senate at 9:30 p.m., killing the two Missouri sports betting bills on the agenda.

A lengthy filibuster from Hoskin, however, made it clear that both VLTs and sports betting would be legalized, or neither would.

What are VLTs?

Adding VLTs into sports betting legislation has complicated the process in Missouri and elsewhere. Video lottery terminals are basically slot machines outside of casinos, mostly located in truck stops and fraternal and veterans’ organizations.

The Show-Me State’s 13 casinos are against VLTs, whose legalization would affect their slot businesses.

Sen. Karla May supported Hoskins’s stance, saying, “you’re not going to have one without the other.”

Hoskins grilled Bernskoetter for over an hour after the latter introduced an amendment seeking to remove the addition of 5,000 VLTs from the bill.

Bernskoetter, citing the large number of “gray machines,” said he opposed adding more gambling terminals at rest stops and gas stations.

What’s Next?

While HB 2502 and HB 2556, which were on Wednesday’s agenda, are effectively dead, stakeholders still believe there are other ways to get sports betting to the finish line this session.

Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Dan Hegeman said this is the best chance “to come up with a compromise that many entities can go along with.”

Lawmakers could take up different sports betting proposals to bring sports betting to the Show-Me State this year. However, the House will have to vote again.

It is not known which bill the lawmakers decide to take up, but whatever they pick, it’s expected to include VLTs.

It is yet to be seen how many legislators consider the addition of 5,000 VLTs a deal-breaker.

Whether or not legal sports betting comes to Missouri this year, we will know by May 13 – the final day of the state’s legislative session.

Missouri and Kansas have been in a neck-in-neck fight to outpace each other in legalizing sports betting to woo the Kansas Chiefs.

 So far, Kansas appears to be reaching the finishing line first.

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