Sports Gambling in Missouri?

With the United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of New Jersey yesterday to strike down 1992’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the decision of sports gambling is now up to each individual state. So what how will Missouri handle this issue? In New Jersey, there are sports books preparing to open in the next couple of weeks. Could we see that in the Show-Me State?

“I don’t think it’s going to be that fast,” said Nick Schroer, Missouri State Representative of the 107th District. “Now with this wide open, I think it’s going to be probably next year that it’s really going to pick up steam if not a year or two after that. While it’s not necessarily going to be “legalized” tomorrow, I think it’s going to be very soon and you can probably count on it before 2020 happening.”

Of course, sports gambling has to actually be legalized in Missouri before anything else can happen. And there are some that are opposed to the idea. But with multiple reports of the hundreds of billions of dollars that are wagered each year, being able to regulate even a portion of that could provide a huge boost in revenue for states.

“If we can impact our economy by making it legal, I think that’s a conversation we definitely need to have here in the state of Missouri,” said Schroer, who’s already been approached by people on both sides of the issue in his district.

Taking things a step forward, if sports gambling becomes regulated and additional revenue is then created for the state, how will it be spent? Does it go to education? Additional police? Road work?

“That’s going to be the biggest obstacle,” said Schroer. “We’ve just fully funded the Public Education Formula two years in a row, which has never happened before, but still there’s plenty of different special interest groups with their hands out saying look, we need more money. Transportation is probably one of the top priorities, so this could inject a lot of help for us in the State of Missouri when we’re already strapped for cash.”

There will also be the question of who or what kind of business can provide sports betting. Will people need to go to an actual sports book or could they place a bet while watching the game at their favorite sports bar enjoying food and beverage with friends?

And perhaps similar to a liquor license, if sports gambling is legalized in Missouri, it could then be up to individual cities or counties on what sort of requirements they would seek to give a license.

Not wanting to add an abundance of tax or regulations, Schroer shared the legislature has already been looking at how Colorado has handled their legalization of marijuana in different areas of the state.

“Even though marijuana is legal across the board there are certain areas they won’t allow the sale of recreational, they’ll only allow medicinal and then there’d be a certain a tax on it,” he said. “If we could concoct such a way where it’s legal in the State of Missouri, you could limit it based upon where you live in zip codes, county lines. If you want to limit it and put different taxes on it, I think that’s something they would definitely have to put in front of the people and propose where the money’s going to go, whether it’s police, fire, EMS, schools.”

There is clearly opportunity on many levels, but there are also many issues to be worked through. While sports fans may clamor for a more immediate resolution, taking the time to get things right is essential.

If you would like to share your concerns or ideas, Schroer suggested to reach directly out to your local representatives. A complete list is available online for the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate.

photo credit: Rachel Aston-Vegas Review Journal

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