Located in the Midwestern part of the United States, Missouri is a relatively late arrival on the North American gambling scene. Most forms of gambling went unregulated until the beginning of the twentieth century when the local legislature outlawed all bookmaking operations. Legal gambling returned to the Show-Me State in the mid-1980s with the legalization of horse racing and the launch of state-operated lotteries.
Less than a decade later, Missourians welcomed the first riverboat casinos housed on licensed excursion boats floating on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Recent legislative changes paved the way for the arrival of non-floating gaming facilities in the state. Licensed riverboat casinos were allowed to move their operations on land as long as certain regulatory conditions were met.
Missouri is presently home to thirteen commercial gaming facilities, overseen by the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC). Over 19,000 Missourians have found employment in the local gambling industry, which contributes more than $997 million in tax revenue. The number of licensed casinos remains capped at thirteen for the time being.
Missouri lacks Indian gaming operations at the moment, although the tribal nation of Osage is currently pushing for a multi-million casino resort near Lake Ozark. Real-money online casinos are prohibited in the state, with social gaming being the only legal option available to Missourians. Things are looking up on the sports betting front as one bill is making progress in the Missouri General Assembly.
Gambling Laws in Missouri
Despite the absence of legal online gaming operations, Missouri is home to a healthy commercial gambling industry that generated over $1.90 billion of gross revenue in 2021. All commercial casinos in the state operate under licenses issued by the local regulatory commission (MGC). The provision of gambling services without a license is a criminal offense under the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo).
Gambling License Types and Requirements
Three types of licenses are necessary to legally run a commercial gaming business in the Show-Me State. Both floating and non-floating facilities require riverboat casino operator licenses granted by the MGC. The other two types of necessary permits are for gaming equipment suppliers and casino employees.
Gambling Taxes in Missouri
Commercial gambling businesses in Missouri are taxed at a rate of 21% based on their gross gambling revenue. The casinos must also pay $2 in additional fees for every passenger that embarks on the riverboats. The admission fees apply per excursion. They are evenly divided between the state and the communities hosting the docks for the riverboats, with each side receiving roughly one dollar per admission.
Responsible Gambling Policies in Missouri
Section 313.842 of the RSMo created the Missouri Compulsive Gamblers Fund, which is integrated within the Department of Mental Health. As part of the efforts to combat gambling addiction in the state, ¢0.01 of every admission fee from riverboat casino players goes toward problem gambling programs.
Patrons who wish to exclude themselves from gambling participation can do so by joining the Missouri Disassociated Persons Program (DAP). Once added, they can request to be removed from the exclusion list after five years. If the person requests a second exclusion after being removed, they will end up on the list for good.
Excluded individuals will not receive any marketing materials from the gambling operators and will have all their loyalty points and other comps forfeited. Authorized riverboats that hold liquor licenses cannot serve free alcoholic beverages to patrons on the gaming floor.
All gambling advertisements should present the operators’ products fairly and honestly. Misleading marketing content is prohibited. Other than that, the operators are not obliged to place on-premise displays with responsible gambling information and treatment hotlines. People under 21 cannot access the gaming areas.
Interactive Gambling in Missouri
Interactive casinos are yet to gain legal status in the Show-Me State. However, residents can legally participate in social casino gaming and play slots or table games via social casino websites or social platforms like Facebook. Social players use virtual credits rather than real money to wager. Unlike full-scale online casinos, withdrawing one’s winnings is not an option at their social counterparts.
Some overseas online casinos readily accept real-money wagers from Missourians without holding the required operator and supplier licenses from the MGC. Missouri authorities have no history of prosecuting recreational players for engaging in online gambling activities on such offshore sites.
Nonetheless, playing at them involves some risk since there is always the possibility of falling prey to a rogue operation. Little to no consumer protection is in place at some offshore casinos, not to mention deceived players cannot seek legal recourse because these operators are outside the jurisdiction of Missouri authorities.
Daily fantasy contests are legal in the Show-Me State and have been regulated since 2016 under the Missouri Fantasy Sports Consumer Protection Act. The Missouri Gaming Commission grants licenses to approved DFS operators, examines the applications of prospective licensees, and imposes sanctions on those who violate the above-mentioned legislation.
The regulatory body also collects the license and operation fees from DFS operators authorized in the state. Daily Fantasy Sports are excluded from the definition of gambling according to Section 313.910. Section 313.920 (4) stipulates only persons aged 18 or above can legally participate in such contests.
Sports Betting in Missouri
Commercial gaming facilities cannot take action on sports events at the moment but by the looks of it, this is about to change soon. A proposal that seeks to legalize sports wagering cleared the Missouri House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority of 115-33 in late March 2022.
Sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx (R), HB 2502 would repeal Section 313.800 of the RSMo and add extra provisions for the regulation of sports wagering if it passes into law. The bill received overwhelming support from local casino operators and professional sports teams. It advanced to the Senate floor in April 2022 and was approved with an 8-1 vote by the Committee on Appropriations.
With 13 commercial casinos operating within state lines, Missouri already has a mature gaming industry that generates nearly a billion in annual tax revenue for education and various social programs. Online daily fantasy sports are the only legal form of interactive gaming at the moment, but this is about to change soon with the anticipated passage of the sports betting bill we mentioned earlier. There was also a recent push for the legalization of video lottery terminals, which, if approved, will enable Missouri to capture additional tax revenue and further expand its industry.