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MLB rep speaks on Missouri sports gambling

(Missourinet) A representative from Major League Baseball (MLB) predicts Missourians will spend billions of dollars annually to bet on sports, if it’s legalized.

Jeremy Kudon traveled to Jefferson City to testify Thursday before the Missouri House Special Interim Committee on Gaming.

“According to the AGA’s Oxford report, Missouri bettors are expected to wager over $5.5 billion on sports, that’s about where New Jersey is right now,” Kudon testifies.

The AGA is the American Gaming Association. Kudon predicts casino operators would make about $376 million a year from that, and that Missouri would receive approximately $37 million annually in taxes.

Kudon also expresses some concerns, noting that MLB opposes allowing betting on spring training games.

“Where the Cardinals may have a plan for (pitcher) Adam Wainwright to throw curve balls the entire first inning, that’s a real-life thing,” Kudon tells lawmakers.

Kudon says he wants to see a bill that creates the best possible legal sports betting framework for Missouri. Kudon also represents the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the PGA Golf Tour.

The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” has reported that at least 18 other states and the District of Columbia allow residents 21 and older to bet on collegiate and professional sports.

State Reps. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, and Cody Smith, R-Carthage, filed sports wagering bills in 2019, but the bills died because of a lack of consensus in the Legislature. Ross, who serves on the interim committee, tells Missourinet he plans to file a similar but improved bill for 2020.

The National Football League (NFL) Players Association and the National Hockey League (NHL) Players Association also testified before the committee on Thursday.

The NFL Players Association is calling on Missouri to establish a hotline for players to call, if the state legalizes sports wagering. Players Association counsel Joe Briggs expressed some security concerns for players, during his testimony.

“So if I’m sitting at home and someone tries to drop a bag of cash on my doorstep to try to make sure that I play a certain way or not next week, who do I pick up the phone and call.” Briggs testified.

Briggs tells state lawmakers the hotline could be run by Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol or the Gaming Commission.

While the bulk of Thursday’s hearing involved sports wagering, the committee also heard some testimony about alleged illegal slot machines. That’s been a major issue at previous hearings.

Committee Chairman Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, tells Missourinet the committee plans to submit a report to House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, by December 1.

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