Missouri lawmakers move closer to legalizing sports betting; gambling addiction counselor warns of this


Missouri House lawmakers this week passed two bills that would legalize sports betting in the state. Internal invoices 2502 and 2556 allow online and in-person betting on professional sports matches. The bills are now moving through the Senate, where the proposal to legalize sports betting enjoys bipartisan support.

Lawmakers like Minority Leader Sen. John Rizzo, D-Kansas City, support legalizing sports betting because of the money it would bring in for the state. The tax rating on HB 2502 is between $20 million and $50 million.

“It’s, in my opinion, kind of ridiculous that I can’t go to a casino and lose $1,000, but I can’t bet $50 on the Chiefs to win,” Rizzo said.

Senator Denny Hoskins, R-Caldwell, sponsored Senate Bill 643, which does the same thing as the two House bills but with a higher tax on casinos. The tax mark for SB 643 is approximately $163 million.

“If we want to make sure casinos make more profit, obviously the House bill would be the way to go,” Hoskins said. “But if we want to make sure we’re protecting taxpayers and that the increased revenue goes to education or veterans homes, then obviously my bill would be a better solution.”

Daniel Smith is Missouri’s state-funded gambling addiction treatment counselor. Smith is adamantly against giving people greater access to the game.

“Sports betting is very, very fast, it’s simultaneous, in other words, you can bet on a lot of things at the same time, and you can lose your shirt very easily,” Smith said.

If sports betting is legalized, Smith suggests lawmakers use a portion of state profits to fund drug treatment and prevention.

“We need a percentage of that to go into prevention and treatment,” Smith said. “Not a dollar is going to prevention right now.”

Signs of gambling addiction:

  • lose a lot of money
  • Spend a lot of time online or on the phone
  • Ask for money
  • get a lot of loans
  • Chase losses, gamble more to make up lost money
  • Lying

The Missouri Problem Gambling Hotline (888-238-7633) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer support, resources, and referrals to anyone affected by problem gambling.

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