Missouri Sports Bettors Use Kansas Side Of Highway To Wager

Written By Adam Hensley on March 26, 2024
A picture of a 'Welcome to Kansas' sign for a story about how Missouri bettors found a spot on the side of the highway in Kansas to bet on sports.

Missouri sports betting isn’t legal, but that doesn’t stop some residents from placing legal bets on sports.

Missourians are increasingly finding ways to bet on their favorite teams and sporting events. And one of those ways is simply crossing into a state in which sports betting is allowed.

KSHB 41‘s Abby Dodge recently made that journey, crossing into Kansas off I-435. Right after traveling across the Missouri border, she took the first exit.

That on/off ramp has turned into a hotbed for Missouri sports bettors looking to place a wager and quickly head back to their home state, explained Missouri resident Evan Harter.

“I told my fiancée, ‘I’m going to see my friends, I’m going to make a border run.’ It’s like we’re in a dry county and need to get booze or something.”

Missourians can use mobile apps as long as they’re not in Missouri

In September 2022, Kansas joined a growing list of states to legalize sports betting. In February of last year, the state saw its first official sports bet: Gov. Laura Kelly placed a $15 wager on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, Missouri sports betting remains illegal, forcing residents to either gamble at unregulated sites or travel out of state. For many, a short jaunt into Kansas is an easy workaround.

Sports betting apps utilize geolocation technology to make sure customers are wagering within a state that does offer legalized sports gambling. As long as they are 21 years of age and not on any exemption list, a Missouri resident betting on sports in Kansas and then traveling back home right after is perfectly legal.

Missouri resident Cody Mckimens told KSHB 41 that he routinely travels to Kansas to make bets.

“It’s always hilarious to me, because I know exactly what they’re doing because I do the same thing. It just makes me happy that I’m not the only Missouri person driving out here to (sports bet).”

Harter suggested to the news station that something could be built for Missourians crossing the border to bet.

“We all need to collaborate and put a place over there, a little watering hole or something until Missouri legalizes (sports betting).”

Missouri missing out on tax dollars

Sure, there’s a fun aspect to casually wagering on sports. But proponents believe the bigger issue is that Missouri is missing out on an influx of tax dollars. Missouri residents are helping neighboring states’ economies by partaking in their sports betting markets.

State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer spoke with St. Louis Public Radio (STLPR) earlier this month. Luetkemeyer has proposed Senate Bill 852. That bill places a 12% tax on operators’ gross gaming revenue. Those tax dollars would then go toward Missouri’s education fund.

“The effect of that is we are losing tax revenue, that Missouri has earmarked for education because gaming money has to go to schools.”

Another bill puts a 10% tax on operator revenue.

Depending on what tax percentage would take effect, projections forecast that Missouri could see up to nearly $30 million per year as a result of sports betting. That’s money going directly back to the state and into funding for education.

And with the Chiefs’ latest Super Bowl win, it’s even more of a missed opportunity.  There’s a chance that Missouri missed out on close to $2.5 million in February when the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers.

Where sports betting currently stands in Missouri

A recent study from Saint Louis University and YouGov polled 900 Missouri residents. The report found that 60% of residents favor sports betting, 25% are opposed and 14% are not sure.

However, those results might not make much of a difference.

In that same interview with STLPR, Luetkemeyer said he believes Missouri legalizing sports betting this year is “unlikely.”

The biggest issue to date has been the inclusion of video lottery terminals in sports betting legislation. Sen. Denny Hoskins, a self-proclaimed “obstructionist,” has remained adamant on pairing the two.

Hoskins, though, is wrapping up his second and final term in the Missouri Senate. The VLT discussion isn’t going away anytime soon, as evident by Rep. Crystal Wade’s latest push.

But Luetkemeyer believes the cry won’t be as vocal as in previous years, which could pay dividends to any sports betting legalization.

“My belief is, and I could be proven wrong on this next session, that the people who are supportive of (VLTs) will want to try and attach it to the bill but won’t go the next further step, which is if they cannot attach a VLT amendment to a clean sports wagering bill, they won’t stand up and kill the underlying legislation. And that’s the difference in where we are right now.”

Photo by PlayMissouri
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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