Missouri Sports Betting: St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III Calling For Action From State Senators

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The St. Louis Cardinals are getting impatient. 

For too long, Missouri’s sports betting issue has proven to be a non-issue. 

For too long, state lawmakers have failed to act on the legislation to legalize additional state tax revenues. 

Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, who is flanked by a lobby of casino operators and professional sports franchises, wants something done. 

Before the state Senate’s May 12 adjournment. 

“I think there are a few things we may push on here at the end,” DeWitt told the St. Louis Post-Disptach. “We’re just so frustrated. It’s working against our fans and our citizens who overwhelmingly support it. 

“We think that’s a good bill.” 

Missouri Sports Betting Could Generate $30M In Taxes

In the late innings, two sports betting bills remain in the law body’s bullpen. Dismayed, DeWitt went public, bellowing a call to action to override the opposition, headed by Missouri Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg). 

Hoskins has, in effect, smothered progress. By linking sports betting to illegal slot machines, lawmakers failed to move forward following a lengthy April 5 debate. At that time, senators declined to legalize video lottery games, dooming the potential sports betting industry.  

If DeWitt and other allies thought Hoskins may have overplayed his hand on the previous vote, silence over the past several weeks have proved them wrong. 

Hoskins’ blockade continues. 

Thirty-three states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized sports betting, allowing residents to wager professional and college athletics online and on mobile devices. Missouri could be poised to earn a 15 percent betting tax, which is estimated to generate approximately $30 million during the initial year. The 13 municipalities that host a casino are projected to collect $3.2 million. The bill also earmarks $1 million to aid problem gambling.   

For two years, the state House of Representatives quickly approved sports betting legislation and delivered it to the Senate. 

Two bills remain shelved. 

Missouri Senate Holding Up Sports Betting Bill Again

Hoskins realizes some sports betting advocates blame him for the languishing legislation. He didn’t deflect attention for the delays, but did not accept any responsibility.

“I know I get a lot of the blame for sports book not passing but neither one of these bills are mine,” Hoskins told the Post-Dispatch. “I don’t control them.”

The House bill reportedly remains in the Senate Appropriations Committee and off the docket. A second version, which was sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) received an eight-hour debate nearly five weeks ago, but not a word since.

Hoskins is not budging.

“As of right now, I would say it’s very doubtful that sports book will pass in the state of Missouri this year,” he said.

DeWitt is calling for a balk.

With time running short on the current legislative session, DeWitt, who also testified before a Senate committee on April 6, 2022, appears to be setting up for the next round.

DeWitt plans to spearhead a ballot referendum in 2024, saying: “We’re going to take a serious look at that.”

NBA Betting Guides 2023 

Jeff Hawkins is an award-winning sportswriter with more than four decades in the industry (print and digital media). A freelance writer/stay-at-home dad since 2008, Hawkins started his career with newspaper stints in Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Upstate New York and Illinois, where he earned the 2004 APSE first-place award for column writing (under 40,000 circulation). As a beat writer, he covered NASCAR Winston Cup events at NHIS (1999-2003), the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks (2003-06) and the NFL's Carolina Panthers (2011-12). Hawkins penned four youth sports books, including a Michael Jordan biography. Hawkins' main hobbies include mountain bike riding, 5k trail runs at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C., and live music.

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