Gamblers in Missouri are one step closer to in-state sports gambling after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law barring states from legalizing sports gambling is unconstitutional.
The ruling paves way for the Missouri legislature to pass its own rules for sports gambling. But two Missouri lawmakers who proposed legislation earlier this session in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling said Monday that they doubt there is time to take action this year. The regular legislative session ends Friday.
"We've only got a week left, so it's probably a high hill to climb, but we're having some conversations trying to figure out if there's a path forward," Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said.
Rep. Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, was more definitive.
"The bill was filed with the anticipation of the Supreme Court making a decision at some point ... , but it's too late in the session to have any traction," Plocher said. "And I think there needs to be more vetting of the bill. So what I will be working on over the summer is that we bring all stakeholders to the table."
Rowden introduced his bill, SB 1009, in February. It would allow sports gambling to occur on "excursion gambling boats" or areas that are over water. Such locations would be able to apply for the authorization to have sports betting on their premises, in part by reclassifying sports wagering as a "game of skill."
Plocher's proposed bill is supported by the NBA, MLB and the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals organizations. It would include an "integrity fee" of a 1 percent charge on all sports wagers, and the collected money would be given to the governing bodies of each sport.
Plocher said professional sports organizations and big national gambling organizations have a lot at stake.
"My bill mandated that the platform for online gaming be at those casinos in Missouri on the water," he said. "That's important because people are doing this now, but they are using offsite places ... , and there is no way to regulate the algorithms used in sports betting, which could potentially lead to people being exploited."
Websites such as Bovada.lv and DraftKings.com are currently used for sports gambling and were legal before Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision. Bovada.lv is hosted in a foreign country, while DraftKings.com, a fantasy sports site, was legal because fantasy sports are classified as a "game of skill" rather than luck.
Lawmakers around the country are currently looking to capitalize on the revenue that legal gambling will bring. According the Associated Press, five states have already passed laws that anticipated the Supreme Court's decision Monday, including Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
"Today's decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner," the American Gaming Association said in a press release Monday. "Today's ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting."
Supervising editors are Tynan Stewart and Pete Bland.