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Missouri lawmakers move closer to legalizing sports betting; gambling addiction counselor cautions against it

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Missouri House lawmakers passed two bills this week that would legalize sports betting in the state. House Bills 2502 and 2556 would allow online and in-person wagering on professional sports matches. The bills now move to the Senate, where the proposition to legalize sports betting has bipartisan support.

Lawmakers, like minority leader Sen. John Rizzo, D-Kansas City, support the legalization of sports betting because of the money it would bring to the state. The fiscal note on HB 2502 is between $20-50 million.

"It's, in my opinion, a little ridiculous that I cant go to a casino and lose $1,000 but I can't bet 50 bucks on the Chiefs to win," Rizzo said.

Sen. 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 fiscal note for SB 643 is about $163 million.

"If we want to make sure that casinos have more profits then obviously the House bill would be the way to go," Hoskins said. "But if we want to make sure that we protect taxpayers and that increased revenue goes toward education or veterans' homes, then obviously my bill would be a better solution."

Daniel Smith is the counselor for Missouri's state-funded gambling addiction treatment. Smith is adamantly against giving people more access to gambling.

"Sports betting is very very quick, it's simultaneous, in other words, you can bet on many things at the same time, and you can lose your shirt very easily," Smith said.

If sports betting is legalized, Smith suggests lawmakers use some of the state's profits to fund treatment and prevention for sports gambling addicts.

"We need a percentage of that to go to prevention and treatment," Smith said. "There's not a dollar that goes to prevention right now."

Signs of gambling addiction:

  • Losing a lot of money
  • Spending a lot of time online or on the phone
  • Asking for money
  • Getting a lot of loans
  • Chasing losses, gambling more to make up for lost money
  • Lying

Missouri’s Problem Gambling Helpline (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.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics
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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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