Missouri has not yet legalized sports betting, although the push to do so has become more intense. At this point, the likelihood of sports betting coming to Missouri seems almost as inevitable as Patrick Mahomes throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Lawmakers considered multiple sports betting bills in 2020. The 2021 session began similarly, with state senators kicking off the year proposing three more bills that are currently in play. The legislation would allow each of Missouri’s riverboat casinos to open retail sportsbooks as well as online sportsbooks. Lawmakers are considering other types of gambling expansion as well, including whether to add sports betting kiosks and video lottery terminals. Keep in mind, even if a bill passes, it will still be months before legal sports betting actually kicks off for bettors.
Here’s an overview of both the historical context and current status of sports betting in Missouri, including a closer look at what Missourians can look forward to once legal sports betting arrives in the Show-Me State.
Is Missouri sports betting legal?
Not currently. However, legalizing sports betting has significant support among Missouri lawmakers. There are multiple sports betting bills currently under consideration, any of which would allow the state’s 13 casinos to offer both retail and online sports betting.
Sen. Denny Hoskins has introduced SB18. The bill would permit each casino up to three online skins, meaning potentially as many as 39 online sportsbooks in the state. SB18 would impose a 9% tax rate on adjusted gross revenue. Operators would pay a $25,000 application fee, a $50,000 annual administrative fee, and a $10,000 renewal fee.
Meanwhile, Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer has proposed SB217. His bill would only allow one online skin per casino. It would impose a lower 6.25% tax rate, which if passed would be the lowest in the country. Operator fees would be less, as well: $10,000 to apply, a $5,000 administrative fee each year, and a $10,000 renewal fee every five years. One other difference in Luetkemeyer’s bill: It would disallow prop betting on individuals or teams in college sports.
Finally, Sen. Caleb Rowden has proposed SB256. Like SB18, Rowden’s bill allows three skins per casino and permits prop betting on college sports. The bill’s proposed tax rate is closer to SB217’s at 6.75% (the same as Nevada and neighbor Iowa). SB256 would charge operators a $50,000 application fee, a $20,000 per year administrative fee, and a $10,000 renewal fee once every five years.
All three bills earmark tax revenue to go to an education fund. A recent study indicated Missouri could collect as much as $95 million annually in tax revenue from sports betting. Several states that border Missouri have legalized sports betting: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, and Tennessee. That, too, provides further incentive to Missouri lawmakers to legalize it.
Will online sports betting come to Missouri?
Whenever sports betting becomes legal in Missouri, online sports betting is likely to be an option. All of the proposed bills currently under consideration would make it possible for casinos to offer sports betting via apps and through online sites accessible via desktops and laptops.
Adding the online option would greatly increase revenue, as well, a primary motive for lawmakers. Currently, most states that have legalized sports betting have made online sportsbooks legal. In states with both retail and online sports betting, revenue via online sportsbooks tends to make up 80% or more of both the handle and revenue.
Who will oversee Missouri sports betting?
The Missouri Gaming Commission currently oversees all forms of gambling in the state, including charitable gambling, casino gambling, and fantasy sports. Proposed bills likewise would charge the Missouri Gaming Commission with overseeing sports betting in the state.
What is the minimum age for sports betting in Missouri?
Missouri allows those 18 and older to play daily fantasy sports. However, the minimum age to legally gamble in Missouri at one of the state’s riverboat casinos is 21. Sports betting legislation currently under consideration in the state sets the minimum age for sports betting at 21.
Are daily fantasy sports contests legal in Missouri?
Yes. Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is explicitly legal in the state, made so by a 2016 law. That year, lawmakers passed a bill explicitly legalizing fantasy sports, although contests cannot involve college teams. Thus DFS sites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo can serve Missouri customers who are 18 or older.
What sports can I bet on in Missouri?
Right now, there is no legal sports betting in Missouri. Betting on horse racing is legal but only at racetracks in Missouri, and there aren’t any permanent tracks open at present. Should Missouri legalize sports betting, expect sportsbooks to accept bets on the following sports, among others:
- Auto racing
- Mixed martial arts
None of the sports betting bills that have been proposed delve too deeply into specifics regarding which sports you can bet on (or not bet on). Nor do they mention betting on either esports or award shows, as some states allow. Regulators will need to hammer out those details once sports betting legislation becomes law.
Betting on pro sports teams in Missouri
Missouri has several professional sports franchises and college teams, all with enthusiastic fan bases.
The Chiefs play at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO, right near the Kansas border. The Royals play right next door in the adjacent Kauffman Stadium. The St. Louis Cardinals play at Busch Stadium, while the Blues skate at the Enterprise Center. All four of these franchises have won championships in their respective sports, and recently, too. The Blues, Cardinals, Chiefs, and Royals have all won titles since 2011. The state will soon have an MLS franchise when St. Louis City SC joins the league in 2023. The Sporting Kansas City club also has a Missouri following, although it plays its home games in Kansas City, Kansas.
There are five NCAA Division I college teams in Missouri, as well:
- Kansas City Roos
- Missouri Tigers
- Missouri State Bears and Lady Bears
- Saint Louis Billikens
- Southeast Missouri Redhawks
Of these, only Missouri plays in the top-level Football Bowl Subdivision. Missouri does not allow fantasy sports players to wager on contests involving college teams. When it comes to sports betting, all of the bills under consideration would allow traditional wagering on college teams. However one of them would not permit prop bets on college sports.
Betting on horse races in Missouri
As noted above, betting on horse races is technically legal in Missouri. However, the law stipulates you can only bet on races at Missouri racetracks, of which there are none.
It’s a similar story with off-track betting, which is technically legal in the state, although there are no OTB parlors at which to bet. The law allows OTB betting, but only on days when tracks hold live races, which essentially doesn’t happen. It’s also against the law to use online platforms to bet on horse racing in Missouri.
What types of sports bets can I place in Missouri?
The current Missouri sports betting bills would each allow all of the typical bets that you’ll find at most sportsbooks across the country:
- Moneylines: “Straight up” bets on one team or player to win a contest.
- Spreads: Wagers on a team or player to “cover” a particular point spread; e.g., betting on the “Chiefs -7.5” is a bet on the Chiefs to win by more than 7.5 points (that is, by eight or more).
- Totals: When you bet on whether the total number of points in a game will go over or under a particular number.
- Parlays: Combine multiple bets into one wager, all of which have to be successful for the bet to payout.
- Round robins: Similar to parlays, but you can win a partial payout if you miss one of the bets.
- Teasers: Parlay bets in which the bettor can alter or “tease” the spread or total.
- Props: Wagers on either a team or individual concerning an outcome other than the game result; e.g., a proposition bet on Patrick Mahomes to throw a certain number of touchdown passes in a game.
- Futures: When you place wagers on future events such as a bet before the season on which team will win the Super Bowl.
- Live betting: Placing bets on a game currently in progress.
The background of Missouri gambling law
During the 19th century, riverboats full of gamblers routinely traveled through Missouri without legal oversight. Such vessels frequently journeyed up and down the Mississippi River that forms Missouri’s eastern border. They also traversed the Missouri River that flows in a southeasterly direction as it bisects the middle of the state.
It wasn’t until the turn of the century that Missouri finally cracked down on illegal gambling, including outlawing betting on horse races in 1905. All gambling (sports betting included) was essentially against the law in the state until 1980 when certain forms of charitable gambling became legal. Nonprofit organizations such as churches and veterans groups could offer bingo games and raffles up to certain limits.
In 1984, Missouri legalized parimutuel wagering on horse races, although only at racetracks. There are no open racetracks in the state at the moment, which means such betting happens only occasionally at fairs and special events.
That same year, Missouri voters approved an amendment to create a state lottery. Legislation subsequently passed, and in 1986, the first lottery tickets went on sale.
Riverboat casinos come to Missouri
In 1992, voters in Missouri approved a referendum to allow riverboat casinos in the state. The next year the Missouri Gaming Commission was established. Then in 1994 the first two riverboat casinos opened, the President Casino on the Admiral (on the Mississippi) and the Casino St. Charles (on the Missouri).
Not only did both of the new casinos have to be physically located on the water, they also had to be “river-worthy,” so to speak. In fact, gambling sessions initially could only occur during short two-hour cruises. Customers could only play so-called “skill” games at first. Blackjack, craps, poker, and video poker were designated as such, but slots and other casino games were not allowed, including sports betting.
Over the following years, further votes approved additional particulars and allowances to the state’s new gambling law, including introducing slots. The state lifted the cruising requirement, and hours eventually expanded to around the clock. Casinos could even rest in moats dug within 1,000 feet of waterways. By 2012, the 13th and last of the Missouri casinos opened, the Century Casino Cape Girardeau near the Mississippi. The state has not considered any additional casinos since. There are no tribal casinos in the state, either.
Gambling is big in Missouri, but it took a while to get to where it is today. If and when sportsbooks arrive in Missouri, there will be places for them to set up camp. The same goes for online sports betting. It’s now just a matter of watching and waiting.