Missouri Sports Betting Legislation Stalls Following State Senator’s Filibuster

Missouri State Senator wants Video Gaming Terminals included in sports betting legislation, or else…

The potential loss of Missouri tax revenue derived from the omission of formal legalization and regulation of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs, also known as Video Lottery Terminals) managed to stall sports betting legislation in the state of Missouri this past week.

Jill Dorson of SportsHandle reports that State Senator Denny Hoskins – a long time proponent of sports betting legalization for the Show-Me State – filibustered debate on two separate sports betting bills that were previously passed by the House.

The ensuing fallout means that Missouri lawmakers will have until May 13th to potentially pass another sports betting bill originating from Jefferson City. However, the two pieces of legislation that were up for debate are, for all intents and purposes, now dead on arrival.

The Issues With VGT/VLT Regulation As An Addendum To Casino & Sports Betting Legalization (Editorial Observations)

The following editorial insights (or opinions) belong solely to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individuals or entities, including this website.

The potential statewide legalization of Video Gaming Terminals (or Video Lottery Terminals) poses a number of issues and questions when said legislation is tacked on to sports betting or casino bills:

  • Responsible Gaming infrastructure
  • Data gathering and security protocols
  • Competition with land-based casinos
  • Black Market (illegal) operation of unregulated, “speak-easy” VGTs/VLTs
  • Reduced land-based scrutiny and security for VGTs/VLTs
  • Underage gambling

Responsible Gaming infrastructure

U.S. statewide initiatives revolving around Responsible Gaming are comprehensive in nature, and administered by seasoned professionals who have years (if not decades) of experience in aiding problem gamblers through a number of verifiable resources. At times, VGTs/VLTs do not adhere to these rigorous protocols (which are built on experience), and do not incorporate themselves into the overall RG infrastructure that continues to be built by major gaming corporations who have the experience (and funding) to further RG aims.

Data gathering and security protocols

Data gathering and security is a “big deal” in the modern day era of gaming: for both land-based and online products. VGTs/VLTs may, at times, fail to partner with trusted service providers (both public and private) to ensure overall communal well-being and security of the jurisdiction in question. Common casino or sports betting issues that may be reported (and enforced) by a statewide gaming commission or administrative body may fly under the radar for establishments that offer VGTs/VLTs – potentially resulting in a knee-jerk reaction use of public/private resources when a situation requiring data gathering/amalgamation occurs.

Competition with land-based casinos

Why should a land-based casino seeking sports betting regulation go through all the extensive investment and steep learning curve of adhering to ultra-strict regulatory policies, while smaller entities assume practically zero responsibility and tack themselves onto the corresponding infrastructure (and revenue generation) as an afterthought? If most casinos truly wanted to authorize VGTs/VLTs, they would place them in their own establishments (perhaps surrounding casual bar/restaurant seating areas), but even then, the products would be subject to the rigorous demands of regulators along with the much-needed Responsible Gaming infrastructure.

Black Market (illegal) operation of unregulated, “speak-easy” VGTs/VLTs

Once VGTs/VLTs are allowed to operate under a formal regulatory infrastructure, other previous “gray market” operators may decide to continue enjoying the revenue obtained from their (now) black market operations while completely ignoring the responsibilities of on-site legal gaming. Not only do these black market operations fail to produce tax revenue for the relevant jurisdiction, they also fail to produce any meaningful input or support into local/statewide Chambers of Commerce. In addition to this, “black market” VGTs/VLTs may be able to offer superior pay tables compared to their “white market” counterparts as a direct result of not adhering to the rules and regulations outlined by formal VGT/VLT legalization.

Reduced land-based scrutiny and security for VGTs/VLTs

A video gaming terminal located within a licensed land-based casino will be subject to an adequate amount of surveillance and regulation that already occurs at said gaming establishment. The same cannot be said for on-site VGTs/VLTs located at other facilities in which both scrutiny and security are lax in comparison to licensed gaming enterprises.

Underage gambling

Licensed casinos typically possess the experience, resources, and “know how” to combat underage gambling in an expedient manner that is communicated among any number of gaming agents/authorities. At times, the same cannot be said for smaller businesses in which underage individuals may participate in illegal gambling due to the lack of scrutiny and security (explained above) at VGT/VLT locations.

VGTs/VLTs Should Require Separate Regulation

This author agrees with consultant Brendan Bussmann’s sentiments, which were communicated to SportsHandle in April.

“Clearly, VGTs can’t get it done with sports betting and advocates are willing to let the illegal market run rampant while the rest of the industry coalesced around the proposal.” Brendan Bussmann to SportsHandle – April 28, 2022