With Hoskins Running For Secretary Of State, Sports Betting Future Is Brighter

Written By Adam Hensley on April 26, 2024
A ray of light cracking through the Missouri Secretary of State seal.

Missouri state Sen. Denny Hoskins, the self-proclaimed sports betting “obstructionist,” is running for secretary of state.

He has been a member of the Missouri Senate since 2017. Due to term limits, he cannot run again for senator.

That’s a relief for sports betting proponents. Hoskins has almost single-handedly blocked legislation to legalize sports wagering in Missouri in the last two sessions of the General Assembly and is expected to do the same this session.

As secretary of state, he would not play a role in sports betting nor legalizing video lottery terminals in Missouri, the issue he has championed for the last several years.

Group says it has required signatures to get sports betting question on ballot

After Hoskins again used his filibuster power to block a measure to legalize Missouri sports betting last year, officials from professional sports teams in the state came together to bypass the General Assembly. They formed a coalition that created a group, Winning for Missouri Education, tasked with collecting enough signatures to get the sports betting question on November’s ballot.

According to the group, they have collected more than the required signatures. They are just awaiting verification from the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office. Missouri residents should finally have a chance to vote on sports betting legalization in November.

Hoskins has linked video lottery terminals (VLTs) to sports betting legislation in an attempt to legalize the slots-like machines found in stores and bars across the state. Missouri’s casinos are strongly against legalizing VLTs, and most lawmakers seem to feel the same way.

Hoskins has said sports betting would not produce enough tax revenue for the state. He has estimated that sports betting would provide the state with around $30 million annually, while VLTs could bring in around $250 million.

Hoskins said he has made VLTs a part of sports betting legalization because of the actions of other lawmakers.

“I’ve always viewed it as one conversation when we talk about gambling here in the state. We’ve had some people say it needs to be separate issues. But then last year, they voted to have sports betting on a tax cut and tax credit bill over in the House and then sent it over on the last day, thinking they had me in some sort of ‘gotcha’ moment. I don’t operate that way. Those that have really cried out saying they need to be separate issues, those are the same people that voted to put sports betting in an unrelated bill on taxation.”

In February, Rep. Crystal Wade introduced House Bill 2835, which would legalize both sports betting and VLTs. She, along with Hoskins, emphasized the need for more funding for the state’s veterans. They believe taxing VLTs would do that. The measure is not expected to gain any traction.

Without Hoskins, Sports betting proponents confident of passing measure next year

Should the ballot initiative drive fail this year, Missouri lawmakers seem optimistic they will get sports betting legislation passed next year. With Hoskins’ exit from the statehouse, the general consensus is that the sports betting conversation will be different a year from now.

Missouri Sen. Tony Kuetkemeyer, who filed a sports betting bill that did not include VLTs, spoke about it to “Politically Speaking.”

“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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