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Online Gambling in Missouri: an Expert Guide

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Gambling in Missouri

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Our Guide to Online Gambling in Missouri

Missouri gambling laws allow for riverboat casinos, social gaming, and a variety of charitable gambling enterprises. At the same time, the state does not allow brick-and-mortar casinos, sportsbooks, or online gambling. While Missouri has a long and colorful history of gambling, it has strict laws perhaps influenced by that same colorful history.

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Missouri Online Gambling FAQ

Missouri Online Gambling Laws

Missouri has a number of idiosyncratic gambling laws. For instance, professional players caught gambling illegally are given heftier fines and sentences than amateurs. Also, anyone who aids an illegal gambling operation in any way might be charge as a gaming operator themselves. In this article, we discuss the various legal and bans forms of gambling in Missouri, while providing a list of the state’s gaming venues.

Section 572.010(4)

A person engages in “gambling” when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence, upon an agreement or understanding that he will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.

The “Material Degree Test” is the rubric for whether a “contest of chance” is considered gambling or not. Even if a contest has a degree of skill (like poker), it is considered a game of chance if skill cannot overcome the degree of chance. Thus, case law requires prosecutors to show a material degree of chance in the game to determine if gambling has occurred.

Missouri has strict laws against gamblers and gambling operators. Operators are punished to a higher degree than players. In fact, Missouri is somewhat quirky in that it distinguishes between professional players and amateurs. Professionals are punished more than amateurs.

Amateurs caught gambling face a class C misdemeanor offense. Knowingly gambling with a minor is considered a Class B offense. If you’re a professional player caught gambling illegally, it’s a Class D offense, which is punishable by up to four years in jail.

Section 572.010(9)

[The term] “professional player” means a player who engages in gambling for a livelihood or who has derived at least twenty percent of his income in any one year within the past five years from acting solely as a player;

The added punishments for professional gamblers are a legacy of the riverboat gamblers of the 19th century. The Mississippi River was home to riverboats known to host professional card sharps. These people were notorious enough to inspire fictional accounts and tougher gambling laws alike.

Still, it is the illegal gaming operators who receive the full extent of the law. Missouri has an expansive definition of gaming operators, so anyone guilty of “advancing gambling activity” can be charged as an organizer or operator. If you help someone else organize illegal gambling, you might be considered an operator yourself.

Section 572.010(1)

A person “advances gambling activity” if, acting other than as a player, he engages in conduct that materially aids any form of gambling activity. 

Conduct of this nature includes but is not limited to conduct directed toward the creation or establishment of the particular game, lottery, contest, scheme, device or activity involved, toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises, paraphernalia, equipment or apparatus therefor, toward the solicitation or inducement of persons to participate therein, toward the actual conduct of the playing phases thereof, toward the arrangement or communication of any of its financial or recording phases, or toward any other phase of its operation.
A person advances gambling activity if, having substantial proprietary control or other authoritative control over premises being used with his knowledge for purposes of gambling activity, he permits that activity to occur or continue or makes no effort to prevent its occurrence or continuation.

IS GAMBLING LEGAL IN THE STATE OF MISSOURI?

A variety of gambling types are legal in the State of Missouri. Riverboat casinos dominate the market. A full slate of lottery betting is available, while pull-tabs and coin boards join bingo gaming among the charitable gaming types. Missouri’s lawmakers have discussed DFS regulations, but not sports betting.

DOES MISSOURI HAVE LAND-BASED CASINOS?

Missouri does not have land-based casinos, but it has 13 riverboat casinos which offer most of the popular games land casinos have. Top national gaming companies like Caesars Entertainment and Penn National Gaming own riverboat casinos in Kansas City and St. Louis. The limitation of riverboat casino gambling is in the amenities and attractions, because the riverboats don’t have the capacity for huge hotels, retail areas, convention space, and concert halls.

Indiana and Louisiana have initiatives to move riverboat casinos onto dry land so the operators can build 21st century integrated casino-resorts. Missouri’s lawmakers have not discussed doing so, but as other states along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers do so, residents can expect to see Missouri follow suit. Missouri’s legislature passed a measure allowing their casinos to offer markers (casino IOUs) to high rollers, because it allowed them to keep pace with other states, so the legislature is responsive to casino owners’ needs.

DOES MISSOURI HAVE ANY LEGAL BETTING TRACKS / SHOPS?

No. Missouri does not have legal horse betting tracks or betting shops. Missouri does not have a history of pari-mutuel wagers.

DOES MISSOURI ALLOW OFF-TRACK BETTING?

No. The Show-Me State does not have off-track betting venues, either.

DOES MISSOURI ALLOW CHARITABLE GAMBLING?

Yes. Several kinds of charitable gaming exist. Charity organizations in the religious, fraternal, veteran, and service categories are allowed to run nonprofit gaming to fund their charitable organizations. Bingo, pull-tab games, merchandise coin boards, and other “free” promotional events are allowed.  A few big bingo halls exist in the cities, while pull-tab games are popular across the state.

Tax revenues from charitable gaming go to the Proceeds for Education Fund. Charitable gambling has contributed to Relay for Life, Alzheimer’s care and research, the Kidney Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, and Boy & Girl Scouts programs. Organizations which support veterans’ funds, drug awareness programs, cancer care and research, and the prevention of child abuse also run Missouri charitable gaming events.

IS SOCIAL GAMING ALLOWED IN MISSOURI?

Social gaming is allowed in Missouri. Sites like Double Down, Zynga, Slotomania, and Big Fish Games can be access by Missouri residents through Facebook or mobile smartphones. Download the Android or iOS app to play with your mobile device. The MyVegas social gaming site from MGM Resorts is legal, though the PlayMGM real money site is not.

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