With the new year comes a new congressional session – and with January 4th the date for Missouri’s congress to start its 2023 business, there are a few clear priorities being laid out for the state’s lawmakers. In the eyes of state residents, congress members and other movers and shakers, one of the most urgent priorities is getting a bill passed to permit sports betting in the state. As we shall see, there are more reasons than the obvious that people want to get that legislation through the chambers of state government.
It has been felt for some time that legal betting in Missouri is an inevitability. The broad sweep of public opinion is in favor, and previous legislation looked set to pass the congressional test previously. This ordnance was dropped eventually, after the addition of language legalizing video lottery terminals. That controversial addition turned some Yay votes to Nay, and the consequences may yet be genuinely problematic for the Show Me State.
Missouri is neighbored by the state of Kansas, and the states are closely linked; so much so that the Kansas City Chiefs play at a stadium in the former. Kansas City is technically within Missouri state, and so although fans of the city’s sports teams hail from both sides of the border, only those within the neighboring state can place bets on the Chiefs as well as Major League baseball’s KC Royals. Kansas was quicker to push through gambling legislation than Missouri, and since then there has been a renewed urgency to catch up as Kansans enjoy the chance to bet on local teams.
There is more to this urgency than meets the eye. Within the next decade, the Kansas City Chiefs will reach the end of their tenancy at the Truman Sports Complex. They have the choice to renew this lease or seek to spread their wings, and if they do the latter, they could well end up moving across state lines into Kansas state. This would become less likely if the expected revenue from betting in Missouri were able to be put into making key upgrades at the Complex, enabling it to make more money for the team. It is for this, among many other reasons, that the owners of both the Chiefs and Royals have been vocal backers of betting legislation.
There will need to be some compromise made in the coming months to ensure that a bill can make its way through congress and be signed by the state governor. Senator Denny Hoskins is understood to be insistent that lottery terminals be included in any bill legalizing betting in the state, but this is understood to be a sticking point for other elected officials. Without some movement on this in the short term, there is a real possibility that Missouri could face a more profound loss in the years to come. State residents will be watching closely as lawmakers return to the job as the new year winds back into gear.