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Republican legislators unveil plans to pre-file bills aimed at legalizing sports betting in Missouri

“We need to do something,” said Rep. Dan Shaul. “People in Missouri want to be able to bet on sports.”

ST. LOUIS — At least three Missouri lawmakers are planning to pre-file legislation on Wednesday that would support legal sports betting in the Show-Me State.

It comes after Nevada and New Jersey both saw more than $1 billion in bets placed last month alone, and states like Illinois continue to rake in the cash.

Since the Supreme Court gave states the go-ahead, Sen. Denny Hoskins, a Republican that represents central and western Missouri, has been looking to legalize sportsbooks in Missouri.

“I wish it was as simple as 'hey you want to bet on sports then you just bet on sports,'” said Hoskins. “Obviously when you look at the big picture that’s what we’re trying to do, but a lot of the devil is in the details.”

He’s bet big on sportsbook bills in the past, and though the gambles have yet to pay off, he’s ready to pre-file another bill ahead of the spring session.

“Some of the issues that we’ve had in the past as far as royalty fees and tax rate and things like that we’ve been working on with many of the stakeholders involved,” said Hoskins.

“We need to do something,” said Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Jefferson County). “People in Missouri want to be able to bet on sports.”

Early estimates on Hoskins's plan show sports books bringing in around $20 million in revenue for the state.

“According to the Missouri Constitution any gambling or gaming money has to go towards education and can also be used towards veterans homes,” said Hoskins.

However, Shaul says there’s a bigger payout available.

“We got $790 million from the NFL last week,” said Shaul. “Do you realize that we could be making on the [video lottery terminals] and the sports gaming we could bring in $400 million per year on taxes.”

In order to accomplish that goal, Shaul is introducing his own plan that parlays two tickets that may have longer odds.

“We’ll take legalized betting and also the video lottery terminals and add those together and deal with both issues at one time,” said Shaul.

Both lawmakers agree it’s probable their plans will receive some pushback from people against gambling.

“There are many people that have downloaded illegal apps or they’re calling their buddies and making those bets,” said Hoskins.

“Right now we are the wild wild west and people are doing their own thing,” said Shaul.  “It’s time that we as legislators need to step up and do something.”

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, the Republican Majority Caucus Whip who represents Buchanan and Platte Counties just north of Kansas City, also has plans to file a sports betting bill but was unavailable for comment prior to deadline.

Legislators can start pre-filing bills for the spring session on Dec. 1.

Regardless of what state legislators do with these sports betting bills, it's more than likely that the issue will be on the ballot after the Blues, Cardinals, Royals and St. Louis City Soccer Club put their support behind several ballot initiatives.