Another state with deep historical ties to riverboat gambling, Missouri had little or no gambling for nearly a century. The once thriving riverboat scene died out quickly in the late 1800’s and at the time there was little appetite for expanding gambling options for state residents. Parimutuel wagering has been legal for decades but the state had no horse tracks meaning that the only betting was amateur races at local fairs.
The first expansion of gambling in the state came in 1980 when bingo games for charities were legalized. That minor development was followed in 1985 by a major development—the creation of a state lottery which opened for business in 1986. As is the case in many states, the proceeds are nominally channeled into ‘education’. The ‘MOLottery’ today offers a fairly pedestrian selection of games with the usual assortment of draws and instant scratch offs. Keno is also available and the lottery also allows the sale of pull tabs to ‘veteran and fraternal clubs’. There is no online betting allowed though players can set up an account to ‘track winnings’.
Riverboat gambling returned to Missouri in 1992. The casinos were required to be ‘under sail’ and regulations mandated a $500 loss limit. Before long, the riverboats were allowed to remain docked—not so much due to a desire to liberalize the gaming laws as in the interest of safety after several accidents and other mishaps on the water. Today there are around a dozen casinos offering a mix of table games and slots with some properties offering live poker. The $500 loss limit was eliminated in 2008 as part of a tax increase on casinos in the state. There is no Native American gaming in Missouri though there has been an effort by the Oklahoma based Osage Nation to develop a casino in the state. The Osage people reportedly trace their roots to Southwestern Missouri thus giving their claims some validity. Of more interest is the fact that they’d have a monopoly on land based gaming in the state as Missouri is one of just 10 states without a state or federally recognized native American tribe.
Sports betting has been discussed since the PASPA ruling though as is the case in many other states nothing significant has been done to make it a reality. It’s hard to tell where Missouri stands on this. On the downside, they’ve shown little interest in being on the cutting edge of gambling. On the other hand, they now have some competition—states all around them now have some form of casino gambling with the most heated competition around Kansas City. New properties have been opened on the Kansas side of the border and should sports betting be added there it would be almost a necessity for Missouri to do something or watch a line of cars full of revenue cross over the border every weekend.