A BetRivers Might Someday Run Through Missouri If The Law Ever Allows

Written By Derek Helling on February 23, 2021

An expansion of an existing partnership between two of the biggest gambling companies in the United States now includes Missouri.

Although it may be a while before BetRivers actually arrives. If ever.

Penn National Gaming properties in Missouri would facilitate BetRivers’ online gambling foray into the Show-Me State. But the two parties still need an assist from the state government.

Deal could make BetRivers a Missouri reality

On Monday, Rush Street Interactive (RSI) and Penn National (PNG) announced new terms of their cross-promotional cooperation. In exchange for giving PNG a potential path into New York for online gambling, PNG will do the same for RSI in three states:

  • Ohio
  • Maryland
  • Missouri

Penn National operates the Argosy Riverside in Kansas City and the Hollywood St. Louis. Essentially, it has the two biggest population centers in Missouri covered. That could play an important role in the future of gambling in the state, which is currently all hypothetical.

The dominoes that need to fall for BetRivers

In Missouri, online gambling along with in-person sports betting remains illegal. For the second straight year, legislators in Jefferson City are trying to change that, at least on the sports betting side.

It’s not clear exactly how that might look if online sports betting does become legal. The legislature needs to answer a few pertinent questions:

  • Will legal sports betting include online wagering?
  • If so, will it be tethered to the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos?
  • In that instance, how many “skins” will licensees have to delve out?

Because PNG has a couple of Missouri properties, there are several paths for BetRivers to enter the state. If the law does sign off on online wagering and tethering it to retail casinos, and if it does authorize multiple skins per license holder, then this is essentially a done deal.

All that would have to happen is for Penn National to obtain a license for at least one of its properties then get further approval for its contract with Rush Street. If one of the aforementioned circumstances change, however, then so does the path forward here.

For instance, if each licensee only gets one skin, then that might force PNG to give one of its two properties’ skins to RSI. It could run its own brand, Barstool Sportsbook, through the other.

How likely are these scenarios? That partially depends on who you talk to, but there are some tea leaves available for reading in MO.

A recent hearing on MO gambling expansion gives some clues

Earlier this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee considered two bills that would expand gambling in Missouri if enacted. They are in agreement on two relevant points but differ on another.

Both S 217 and S 256 legalize online wagering and give brick-and-mortar casinos the opportunity to apply for licenses to offer that type of gambling.

That said, S 256 would only give each licensee one online skin, while S 217 would award each licensee three skins. If S 256 or another bill like it becomes law, the path becomes a bit more convoluted for BetRivers.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that any of the several existing gambling expansion bills in the Missouri legislature will become law. For now, this deal is all about being ready in the event of online gambling legalization.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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