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Missouri Sports Betting May Be Long Shot Because ‘Politics Are So Messy’

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The Show-Me State may not have much to show for attempts to legalize sports betting within its borders in 2020. If Missouri State Representative Wes Rogers is reading the situation accurately, those prospects are very slim.

Rogers attributes that to lobbying interests who are effectively holding sports betting legalization “hostage” right now. He is pessimistic about any attempts to liberate it as well.

Video lottery terminals and sports betting in Missouri

Rogers, who served on the House Special Interim Committee on Gaming last year, is one of the biggest proponents of legalizing sports betting in Missouri’s lower legislative chamber.

One of the issues that committee held hearings on was the expansion of the state’s lottery to include legal video terminals in places like gas stations and truck stops.

The lobbying for legislation to expand that has been somewhat successful. Legislators have introduced two bills (SB566 and SB936) in the Missouri Senate and one in the House. The House bill, HB2030, made it out of committee.

For Rogers, the prospect of opening the state up to VLTs is unappetizing. Most of his concerns focus on responsible gaming pertaining to both minimum age requirements and protecting those with compulsive gambling issues.

“Legalized gambling needs to be highly regulated,” Rogers said. “It needs to be in a safe environment. The casinos have been doing this for decades. They know what they’re doing. You’re asking someone who isn’t an expert to take on the same roles as these casinos. You’re going to run into all sorts of trouble.”

Rogers says that he believes the leadership in the upper chamber of the Missouri legislature is “hostile” to VLTs. Because of that, he doesn’t see VLT legalization in the state this year.

Unfortunately for Rogers, that also means the chances of legalizing wagering on sporting events is unlikely this year as well. That’s because lobbying efforts have succeeded in marrying the two interests.

Why legislators are holding sports betting legalization ‘hostage’ right now

Rogers feels that enough of the legislators in his state are unwilling to legalize sports betting without also enacting legislation on VLTs to kill any standalone sports betting bill to expand Missouri gambling this year.

“That’s crazy, they’re apples and oranges,” Rogers explained. “We can pass a clean sports betting bill, start generating revenue, take something off the black market. There’s just no reason to tie it to something that’s so controversial. I think if you were to take a straight up and down vote on just sports betting right now, I don’t think it would pass because the politics are so messy.”

Because the issue is currently tied to the VLTs, Rogers puts the chance of enacting legislation on sports wagering this year at less than five percent. He hasn’t given up all hope, however.

“I told my friends on the other side if we can’t get a sports betting bill done I will make it partisan because I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of listening to our voters on this,” Rogers added. “I get calls to my office pretty regularly to see if we’re getting this done.

“An older man at the YMCA approached me and told me that during the football season, a member of a group of his buddies drives to Iowa every Friday to place bets there,” Rogers continued. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how close we are to getting this done and how much different it would be from the black market.”

There is a reason for Rogers’ optimism on being close. He supports one of the standalone sports betting bills in committee right now.

A clean Missouri sports betting bill

HB2318, introduced by Rep. Phil Christofanelli on Jan. 29, has Rogers’ backing. It’s superior to other bills like SB567 because it doesn’t require future potential legal sportsbooks to pay a royalty to professional sports leagues, for example.

Rogers said that he believes that private tax is dead in the legislature but there is still support for an official data mandate. Rogers opposes that and such language is not present in Christofanelli’s bill.

It’s easy to see why Rogers supports HB2318. Not only does it avoid the traps of restricting wagering to retail sportsbooks or the in-person registration requirement that two of Missouri’s neighboring states have fallen into, but it makes Missouri’s market competitive with a tax rate of just 6.75%.

Regardless of the quality of Christofanelli’s bill, it appears it will languish in committee for the rest of the legislative term, even though the sponsor is more optimistic than Rogers. Because of that, groups like those which Rogers spoke about will have to continue to travel beyond Missouri’s borders to legally wager on sports.

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Why Illinois Sports Betting Has A 50/50 Shot For A March Launch Date

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The excitement surrounding Illinois sports betting and when it will make its official debut is causing a frenzy amongst casual and expert bettors.

I’d imagine fans of the New Orleans Pelicans had a similar feeling waiting patiently for first-round draft pick Zion Williams to step on the hardwood. But with something so delicate, like Zion and sports betting, you must proceed with caution.

So while three casinos have been granted temporary operating permits, this doesn’t mean sports betting has finally arrived. However, it does mean the necessary steps are being taken to ensure these properties can be the first to begin receiving wagers once the green light is given.

Let the madness begin

March has been designated as the target date for sports betting to launch.

But is it conceivable?

Cory Aronovitz, a seasoned gaming attorney with Casino Law Group in Chicago, IL, is optimistic sports betting can launch in March because these gaming operators have done this in other jurisdictions.

“Managing expectations is crucial, and there is a demand for the product. So, target dates with contingencies are appropriate,” Aronovitz said in an email.

The likely three casinos to launch first are:

  • Argosy Casino Alton – Penn National
  • Grand Victoria Casino Elgin – Eldorado
  • Rivers Casino Des Plaines – Rivers

“These properties all have sports wagering experience, and aside from tweaks for unique aspects of Illinois regulations, the software has been vetted and utilized in other markets,” Aronovitz said.

Other experts on the subject of Illinois sports betting

Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, told Legal Sports Report, “I think you’ll see something up and running before March Madness, at least at these three facilities.”

Sure, it’s possible casinos can be up and running in time for the big dance, but there are still miles of red tape to go through. Properties still need to complete rigorous testing on internal control systems, betting software, and other compliance operations outlined by the emergency rules. That doesn’t happen overnight.

But it appears all the work rests in the hands of the casinos.

According to Joe Miller, director of policy at the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), “we’ve given them the tools, and now they can finish the job.”

“It’s on [the casinos] on how fast they want to go to become compliant with the rules and offer sports wagering to their customers,” Miller told LSR.

More gambling, more gambling dollars

Illinois is no stranger to milking gambling dollars from its residents.

The state already has more video gaming terminals (VGT)  than Las Vegas 385,945 to be exact. In 2019, Illinois collected $444,384,459 in taxes from gaming terminals. Municipalities collected a combined $83,833,498, according to a report from the IGB.

The addition of sports betting will only solidity the state as a gambling powerhouse not only in the Midwest but in the country. According to some estimates, the state could record an annual sports betting handle of $5.3 billion by 2023.

To say that IL residents are hungry for sports betting would be an understatement. Residents have been bolting across the border into Indiana to hand over wads of cash in order to place bets. Only time will tell if they can empty their pockets at local casinos in time for March Madness.

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Categories: Gambling News

Tags:

Why Illinois Sports Betting Has A 50/50 Shot For A March Launch Date

[ad_1]

The excitement surrounding Illinois sports betting and when it will make its official debut is causing a frenzy amongst casual and expert bettors.

I’d imagine fans of the New Orleans Pelicans had a similar feeling waiting patiently for first-round draft pick Zion Williams to step on the hardwood. But with something so delicate, like Zion and sports betting, you must proceed with caution.

So while three casinos have been granted temporary operating permits, this doesn’t mean sports betting has finally arrived. However, it does mean the necessary steps are being taken to ensure these properties can be the first to begin receiving wagers once the green light is given.

Let the madness begin

March has been designated as the target date for sports betting to launch.

But is it conceivable?

Cory Aronovitz, a seasoned gaming attorney with Casino Law Group in Chicago, IL, is optimistic sports betting can launch in March because these gaming operators have done this in other jurisdictions.

“Managing expectations is crucial, and there is a demand for the product. So, target dates with contingencies are appropriate,” Aronovitz said in an email.

The likely three casinos to launch first are:

  • Argosy Casino Alton – Penn National
  • Grand Victoria Casino Elgin – Eldorado
  • Rivers Casino Des Plaines – Rivers

“These properties all have sports wagering experience, and aside from tweaks for unique aspects of Illinois regulations, the software has been vetted and utilized in other markets,” Aronovitz said.

Other experts on the subject of Illinois sports betting

Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, told Legal Sports Report, “I think you’ll see something up and running before March Madness, at least at these three facilities.”

Sure, it’s possible casinos can be up and running in time for the big dance, but there are still miles of red tape to go through. Properties still need to complete rigorous testing on internal control systems, betting software, and other compliance operations outlined by the emergency rules. That doesn’t happen overnight.

But it appears all the work rests in the hands of the casinos.

According to Joe Miller, director of policy at the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), “we’ve given them the tools, and now they can finish the job.”

“It’s on [the casinos] on how fast they want to go to become compliant with the rules and offer sports wagering to their customers,” Miller told LSR.

More gambling, more gambling dollars

Illinois is no stranger to milking gambling dollars from its residents.

The state already has more video gaming terminals (VGT)  than Las Vegas 385,945 to be exact. In 2019, Illinois collected $444,384,459 in taxes from gaming terminals. Municipalities collected a combined $83,833,498, according to a report from the IGB.

The addition of sports betting will only solidity the state as a gambling powerhouse not only in the Midwest but in the country. According to some estimates, the state could record an annual sports betting handle of $5.3 billion by 2023.

To say that IL residents are hungry for sports betting would be an understatement. Residents have been bolting across the border into Indiana to hand over wads of cash in order to place bets. Only time will tell if they can empty their pockets at local casinos in time for March Madness.

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