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After years of stalled attempts, Missouri House votes to legalize sports betting

San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Cristian Espinoza, in gray and black, jumps over St. Louis City S.C. defender Kyle Hiebert, in red and yellow, as he goes in for the ball
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis City SC defender Kyle Hiebert goes in for a slide tackle in an attempt to take the ball from San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Cristian Espinoza on March 18 at CityPark. Soon, Missouri residents could be able to bet on soccer and other sports.

Supporters have tried since 2018 to legalize sports betting in Missouri, but the issue has become linked with video gaming terminals, which operate in a legal gray area in the state.

Missouri residents are again a step closer to being able to bet on professional and collegiate sports.

The state House voted 118-35 on Wednesday to send a sports wagering bill to the Senate. It allows people to place bets at a casino or through online platforms like DraftKings. Wagers would be taxed at 10%, with the funds going toward K-12 education and the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.

The measure would also require the state’s Gaming Commission to regularly issue a report on gambling in the state, including data on compulsive gambling and recommendations to address it. Pew Research recently found that calls to problem gambling hotlines often skyrocket shortly after states approve sports betting.

Supporters include all of the state’s professional sports teams, though the players unions are opposed.

Six of the eight states bordering Missouri have already authorized sports wagering. Supportsers in the legislature have tried since 2018 to pass it, but the measures have been waylaid by the debate around video gaming terminals.

Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City, urged her colleagues to keep the issues separate.

“Our constituents want this,” she said. “We need to get it done and we need to do it this way, without attaching it to something that can’t stand on its own.”

Neither the House version, sponsored by Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, or a Senate proposal from Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, includes video gaming language.

The House bill now goes to the Senate, where a version of sports betting awaits consideration.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.
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