Is it a gambler’s way of life in the state of Missouri? That depends. If, for example, you’re playing free fun online slots at mobile social casinos, Facebook casinos, or free play online casinos, then of course, it is perfectly lawful to partake. It’s when it comes to playing for real money that you’ll need to exercise caution, as there could be legal implications. In the case of land-based casinos or the lottery, Missourians are perfectly within their rights to gamble, however, the state takes a far less amenable view of horse and dog racing, while online casino gambling inhabits a bit of a legal grey zone. Here, we’ll attempt to clear away any confusion, by touching on the history of gambling in the state of Missouri, and taking a closer inspection into what exactly is legal and what’s not.
The History of Gambling in Missouri
With more than 6 million inhabitants residing in the 18th most populous state in America, Missouri is rich in diverse cultures and natural beauty. The famed Mississippi River forms the state’s eastern border, and is incidentally, the prefect segue way into Missouri’s gambling history: after all, it was here that the riverboat casinos of the 18th century thrived. Incredibly popular, they eventually fizzled out by the early 1900s, after which Missouri entered into an extended period where gambling was mostly an underground activity. At the time, pari-mutuel betting was permitted for horse-racing, although there weren’t any racetracks – rather, it took the form of amateur races at summer fairs.
In 1980, Bingo halls and raffles for charitable causes and non-profit organisations were introduced to Missourians – today, these remain an integral part of the state’s gaming landscape. By 1986, the first draw had been made on the state’s lottery – in time, this would grow to include inter-state games like PowerBall. Since its inception, the state lottery has generated over 3 billion dollars, most of which has been funnelled into education.
Missouri’s real gambling explosion occurred in 1992, however, when a law was passed permitting the return of the famed riverboat casinos. At first, these had to be cruising the waters, but after a collision occurred and safety concerns were raised, all 16 riverboat casinos were allowed to dock while gambling took place on board. In addition, during the 1990s and beyond, 13 land-based commercial casinos came into being, spread across 10 cities. In 1993, the Missouri Gaming Commission was created to supervise all types of gambling within the state, and a year later, the Charitable Games Division was formed to oversee charity gambling.
What Types of Gambling are Legal in Missouri?
To legally gamble in the state of Missouri, you must be over 21 years of age. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of gambling, specifically what is legal and what is not.
- Riverboat and Land-based Casino Games: Yes, there is a wide choice of riverboat casinos in the state of Missouri, offering slots and table games. And, while there are no tribal casinos, there are 13 commercial casinos where Missourians can indulge in their favourite slots and table games, as well as poker rooms. The casinos include Ameristar Casino Hotel, Ameristar Casino Resort Spa, Isle of Capri, Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa, Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino & Hotel, Lumiére Place Casino & Hotel, Lady Luck Casino Caruthersville, Mark Twain Casino, Hollywood Casino St. Louis, Isle Casino Cape Girardeau, River City Casino, St. Jo Frontier Casino and Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville.
- State Lottery: Yes, this is an incredibly popular form of gambling, and it includes inter-state games like PowerBall, Mega Millions, Lucky For Life, Missouri Lotto, Show Me Cash, Club Keno, Monopoly Millionaire’s Club, Pick 3, and Pick 4.
- Online Casino Games: No, but in the same breath, there aren’t any Internet-specific wording included in the gambling statutes. That said, it is widely considered to be illegal to operate or play at any online casino based in Missouri itself. While no-one has ever been arrested for playing, the state has been known to go after operators, so we’d strongly recommend you stay away from these types of online casinos. You can, however, play without fear of reprisal, at any licensed and regulated offshore (not based in the state) casinos that accept Missourians – these include Bovada, Las Vegas USA and Vegas Casino, to name just a few.
- Online Social Casino Games: Yes. If entertainment is your chief goal, and you’d prefer to not risk playing for real money online, you can always do a search for the following: the best social casino apps, fun play casinos, free fun online slots, mobile social casinos, Facebook casinos, how to play on Facebook casinos, and free play online casinos. These offer a perfectly legitimate online gaming experience, and as no money is being exchanged, there is no risk to you.
- Live Poker: Yes. There are numerous poker rooms, especially at the riverboat casinos. Home games are also allowed, as long as nobody is making a profit.
- Online Poker: No, and there is nothing to indicate that this will change any time soon. However, there is also no anti-regulation movement, so the successes of other states in this regard could lead to a change in this status.
- Sports Betting and Online Sports Betting: No. Missourians can participate in pari-mutuel betting on horse-racing, but only at county fairs.
- Bingo Games: Yes, charity bingo and raffles are allowed.
When it comes to riverboat and commercial casinos, the state of Missouri offers some good opportunities to gamble, thanks to the wide range of slots, table games and poker rooms available in these establishments. Outside of these, however, there isn’t that much to get your gambling juices flowing – unless lottery games and charity bingo nights tickle your fancy. As for online gambling, the current statute makes it illegal to play at any online casino, poker, and sports betting sites operating from within the state’s borders. And, while no-one has been arrested yet for playing online casino games, we’d advise you to stick to offshore sites that accept Missourians – simply make sure they’re fully licensed and regulated, and that they offer payment options that are applicable to you. Or, you can play at mobile social casinos and free play online casinos for free.
Missouri is definitely not the most anti-gambling state we’ve come across, however, they’ve shown little interest in fully embracing the industry, or in innovating, preferring to stick to their tried and tested riverboat casinos.