As far as sporting options go, Missouri has a nice mix of popular pro and collegiate squads. Thanks in large part to the St. Louis market, they have a franchise across three of the four major North American leagues while their collegiate interest is tethered almost exclusively to a couple of football programs. This region’s commitment to sports, along with its lack of proximity to major hubs, has helped to lay the groundwork for what can be considered fair a stance on gambling.
Missouri Sports Betting Law
Missouri is not a home to sportsbooks, not even in one of their handful of casinos. Officially, sports betting is considered illegal. There are gaps in the laws, particularly when it comes to social gambling, and you can always use the legit online sportsbooks listed below, but the state is otherwise against wagering on athletic events.
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Riverboat-Dominated Casino Scene
Of Missouri’s roughly dozen casinos, only one is tribally owned and operated. The rest are state-licensed corporations, and they operate according to the riverboat rules and regulations.
The layout of these gambling hubs falls somewhere in between clustered and spread out. Multiple casinos pop up in St. Louis and Kansas City, but this is nothing like Atlanta City in New Jersey or Mississippi’s strip of dice joints along the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River. Instead, many of the casinos are stationed in half-major cities throughout the state, with only two instances of there being two or three establishments inside sniffing distance of one another.
Daily Fantasy Sports Have the Green Light
While many other states remain in flux on daily fantasy sports, Missouri approved their operation and residents’ participation dating back to June 2016. They recognize these DFS contests as games of skill rather than wagers based almost entirely on chance. Betting money on high school and college sports is strictly prohibited under their bill, limiting DFS options in the state to professional leagues, but that’s neither he nor there. Sites like Draft Kings and FanDuel never included high school options, and most DFS places have abandoned collegiate contests.
Weird Social Gambling Laws
Social gambling is portrayed as illegal in many instances across Missouri. And yet, technically, it can also be legal. Their laws get caught up in the definition of “player.”
Basically, if no one is profiting off your gambling event who isn’t participating in it, you’re deemed a legal player. This seems to cover your butt when it comes to household poker games, football pools wherein there isn’t a mandatory vig and things like that.
The letter of the law starts to get murky when looking at organizational scale gambling outside casinos. Back room poker games and slots are clearly illegal, but the verdict when it comes to bingo nights and raffles are open for interpretation.
Charitable gambling is fine, which in turn allows for some form of legal raffling, but the operation of working casino-materials—described as roulette tables, slot machines, etc.—is not.
Zoom out, and this is where Missouri seems to stand on social gambling overall: It’s totally fine in a small recreational setting. Anything bigger toes, if not crosses, the line of legality.
Strong State Lottery
For a state that doesn’t rank inside the top 15 of total population, Missouri owns a hearty lottery program. They have around the ninth-most influential lottery system of the other 49 regions, which contributes to a yearly revenue stream that comes close to $2 billion.
This popularity helps offset the absence of racinos, which are a big profit-driver for some states. Though Missouri allows for horse race betting (dog racing is illegal), they don’t have casino grounds that boast a track. Everything is separate, which splits up clientele and, frankly, eats into their profit margins. Luckily, the state lottery helps make up quite a bit of that squandered ground.
Missouri’s Gambling Law Overview
Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in Missouri at this time.
- Casino Gambling: Legal
- Tribal Gambling: Legal
- Poker: Legal
- Horse-Race Betting: Legal
- Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
- Lottery: Legal
- Daily Fantasy Betting: Legal
- Social Gambling: Legal (but with restrictions)
- Charitable Gambling: Legal
- Online Gambling: Not specified
Missouri Sports Teams
St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)
With the St. Louis Rams of the NFL now setting up shop in Los Angeles, the St. Louis Cardinals are the most popular professional team in the state.
That’s not saying much when you’re only challenger at this level is an NHL team and another MLB squad, but the Cardinals do have a pretty rich history on the ball field.
The franchise has been around for more than 135 years, during which time it’s made 28 playoff appearances, won 23 pennants and secured 11 world titles.
The most recent World Series victory came not too long ago, in 2011. The Cardinals followed that up by making the National League Championship Series in two of the next three years, but they could never get back to the big dance and have since entered a quasi-rebuilding era.
St. Louis Blues (NHL)
Relative to other surrounding states in the area, Missouri’s interest in hockey is high. Much of this is owed to the absence of alternatives at the professional level. MLB’s Cardinals and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs are now the only competition.
Nevertheless, the St. Louis Blues have been around for 50 years and tout an impassioned following—popularity and loyalty that has been built upon a sterling playoff resume.
The Blues have never won a Stanley Cup, but they’ve missed the postseason just nine times during their existence. And since 1980, they’ve only missed the NHL’s spring fling a total of five times. Whenever you remain that relevant deep into the season, you’re beefing up your resume—even when, in the Blues’ case, you’re not taking home championships.
Missouri Tigers (College Football)
Although we could just as easily roll with the Kansas City Royals, they’re more popular in the neighboring state of Kansas than Missouri. Ditto for the NFL’s Chiefs.
The Tigers generate more statewide interest, even if their following base doesn’t match the volume of either the Chiefs or Royals. The Tigers’ football program has been around for more than 100 years, through which they’ve earned 31 Bowl-game appearances, with a 15-16 record in those tilts.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the program has fallen on harder times. They rattled off consecutive championship-level victories in the Cotton Bowl and Citrus Bowl, respectively, during the 2013 and 2014 seasons but have yet to finish above .500 in the years since.
Missouri’s Biggest Sporting Event of the Year
American Royal World Series of BBQ
Do. Not. Laugh. This is a serious event in Missouri. Top chefs from around all around the world flock to this end-of-summer event to see who among them has the best backyard-style cooking. The entire thing is like one big festival, which includes various contests and forms of live entertainment. It’s been around for roughly four decades and takes center stage as an annual event given the absence of college bowl games, a NASCAR track, world championships for other sports, etc.