A Special Interim House Committee in Missouri released a report in regards to the sports betting and video gambling terminals in the state. While the committee does believe that legal sports gambling could be a viable revenue stream for the state, they haven't made specific recommendations on how it would operate if legalized.
House Committee Believes Sports Gambling is a Money Maker
The Special interim House Committee on Gaming has found that legalizing sports gaming could bring in much-needed revenue to boost education funding. "The committee views the legalization of sports betting as a legitimate opportunity to increase state revenues and to direct such revenues in a manner similar to the Missouri Lottery and casino gaming to that bulk will help fund education," according to the Committee's findings.
The Committee's report also included the issue of the illegal gambling machines that have been popping up across the state. Some estimates claim that there are over 14K of these "gray machines" in Missouri. The reason for the gray area is that those in favor of having the machines in operation claim that they are not really gambling. They argue that they are no different than slot machines and should be regulated and taxed accordingly.
Missouri Voters Have Already Had Their Say
Back in 1994, Missouri residents voted to approve casino wagering in the state. Voters were very specific about restricting casinos to certain parts of Missouri. They also voted again back in 2008 to limit the number of casinos to 13 statewide. The fact that these machines have popped up all over the state is not what residents would have envisioned back then.
With so many machines currently in use, it will be hard for the Missouri Gaming Commission to restrict them without greatly affecting local businesses. Due to the fact that local law enforcement has done little to restrict the use of these terminals, the Gaming Commission now finds itself in a very difficult position with no solutions as of yet on how to move forward.
Committee Shows Interest in Mobile Wagering
Back in October at a hearing in front of the Special Interim House Committee, industry leaders spoke about the need for mobile wagering should Missouri decide to move forward with legalized sports gambling. The reason industry leaders would want mobile wagering is very clear. New Jersey is regularly challenging Nevada in terms of handle and with 85% of their wagers coming via mobile options, that is all the evidence you need.
It seems like their requests were heard loud and clear as the report released by the Committee has specified that they do have an interest in mobile wagering. The report does not specify who they believe should be in charge of regulation with the Missouri Lottery and Gaming Commission mentioned as possible overseers. There does exist the possibility of an outside agency being looked at as an option as well. This report is only the beginning of this process and in fact, it will probably serve as the foundation for another sports betting bill in the state. It is believed that Senator Denny Hoskins will file another bill for the 2020 session. With so many of Missouri's neighbors already offering legal sports betting, this is good news for local residents that are in favor of legalization.