The odds of a Missouri sports-betting bill crystallizing have plummeted recently. And not because lawmakers aren’t interested in developing a new revenue stream for their state.
As Republican Governor Eric Greitens continues to fight felony charges for invasion of privacy, and allegations of sexual assault and blackmail, the state’s general assembly finds itself in a difficult position.
“I do not foresee [sports-betting legislation passing] happening at this time,” Representative Bart Korman (R-District 42) told SportsHandle on Thursday. “If you look at the news with our governor and the attorney general and other things going on, I’m not real optimistic that any legislation is going to pass, especially something new like this.”
Missouri Sports-Betting Bills Have Legs, But Scandal Embroiling New Governor Is Dragging Down Legislature
On Thursday, a St. Louis judge rejected a request by Greitens to throw out the charges and earlier this week, the governor vowed that he would not resign. Several GOP leaders in the Missouri legislature are calling on Greitens to resign. Reported Jason Rosenbaum on Morning Edition:
“The developments quickly gained steam: In February, he was indicted for photographing the woman he had an extramarital affair with without her consent. And last week, a detailed investigation by the Missouri House painted the former Navy SEAL as being sexually and physically abusive in the affair.”
“While the governor admitted to the affair, he’s strenuously denied the woman’s characterizations of his behavior. And he’s made it clear for months that he’s not going to resign.”
With all that action as the backdrop, Korman predicted that lawmakers won’t make much headway in general before the session closes on May 18.
There are currently at least six bills floating around both chambers of the Missouri assembly, among them Korman’s HB 2320, a one-page document that allows for sports betting in casinos, through the state lottery, and on daily fantasy sites. The bill offers little guidance other than making sports gambling legal. And that’s by design.
“After I threw my approach out there, a few other people threw their approaches, out,” he said. “But I think with the legislature, sometimes simpler is better. And since this would be new to Missouri, I think simpler is better. “
In essence, Korman wants to leave the details of how sports betting is managed, implemented and taxed to the professionals – the state’s gaming commission, which already oversees all wagering in the state. And of course legalization in any state hinges upon the outcome of Murphy v NCAA, the Supreme Court sports betting case, in which a decision forthcoming this spring may lift the federal ban on sports wagering outside Nevada.
Missouri currently has 13 riverboat casinos, and the number of casino licenses is limited, so that number likely won’t rise.
While gambling revenue in Missouri is already earmarked for education, Korman’s goal is freeing up other monies for his key projects, which include building roads and bridges. He said that if sports betting can bring in more revenue to education, that, in turn, will free up other money in the general fund, allowing him to pursue projects relevant to his district.
Whatever the end game, Korman believes he – and all lawmakers – have to wait.
“Betting against (sports betting) not passing is probably a safe bet at this time,” Korman said. “Trust me, I’d like to be ahead of the curve on a lot of other things. … But I don’t see that (sports betting) would be enough of a concern to do it in this session.”