Missouri Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

Missouri is a state defined by its waterways embodied in the rivers Mississippi and Missouri that flow through its eastern and western parts of the state, so no wonder why gambling is also entwined with its waterways. The first riverboat casinos in Missouri were established in the 19th century and, together with horse racing, defined the gambling scene in the state. Horse racing and riverboat casinos flourished at that time, and gambling went on pretty much unchecked.

However, in 1905, the government put a stop on all forms of gambling, and it wasn’t until the late 20th century that changes in the legislation brought about the legalization of riverboat casino gambling, lottery, bingo, and charitable gaming, and pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing.

In this article, we are going to explore the gambling laws in Missouri, what forms of gambling are allowed, and where you can play your favorite casino games when in Missouri.

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Gambling Laws in Missouri — The Law Overview

Missouri is famed for its sobriquet “Show Me State” and for being the home state of Mark Twain, but gambling appears to have found a way to make Missouri known for gaming, too. Gambling in Missouri is regulated according to Title 21, Chapter 313 of the Missouri Statutes and Missouri Criminal Code.

There have been many amendments to the law over the years. Still, the first significant breakthrough occurred in 1985 when Missouri established and legalized the state lottery under the supervision of the Missouri Lottery Commission. The first draws were held in 1986, and since then, the Missouri State Lottery has expanded to become a member of the multi-state lottery programs to include lotteries such as Powerball and MegaMillions, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

That same year, pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing was legalized, and the Horse Racing Commission was established to oversee, license, and regulate race tracks and all things related to horse racing. However, as the casino craze took hold, the horse racing industry significantly waned and diminished.

In the 90s, there was a momentous change in the legislation when riverboat casino gaming on the rivers of Missouri was approved. Casino gambling is regulated under Chapter 313 of the Missouri Statutes and overseen by The Missouri Gaming Commission. The Missouri Gaming Commission was established in 1993 by the act of the 87th General Assembly to regulate excursion gambling boats, license them, and make sure all gambling is done according to the law and regulations. The Missouri Gaming Commission has also been assigned to take care of the Missouri Horse Racing Commission that has become a division of the MGC. In 1995, the Charitable Games Division division of the Missouri Gaming Commission was created to oversee bingo and charitable gaming allowed under the law.

The most recent changes in the gambling law happened with the Missouri Fantasy Sports Consumer Protection Act in 2016 that regulated daily fantasy sports contests on the Internet, under the supervision of the Missouri Gaming Commission.

If a person engages in illegal forms of gambling not sanctioned by the government, that person would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $750 and up to fifteen days in jail. If a person is deemed to be a professional gambler engaging in illegal gambling, the fine will climb to $750 and a year in jail.

The minimum legal age for charitable games is 16, while to play the lottery and engage in pari-mutuel wagering on horses, you must be over 18. To play casino-style games at riverboat casinos, you must be at least 21 years old.

What Forms of Gambling Are Allowed in Missouri?

One of the first legal forms of gambling in Missouri was charitable bingo and raffles, legalized back in 1980. Apart from bingo and raffles, charitable games like pull-tabs were also allowed.

Also, as of 1986, the state lottery has been allowed, with over 70 percent approval rating from the voters. In the following years, the Missouri State Lottery became a member of interstate lotteries and gained access to colossal jackpot lotteries like Powerball. In 2012, a Missouri couple won almost $200 million in the Powerball lottery — one of the biggest wins to date.

Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing is allowed, but there are no active race tracks in Missouri at the moment. However, bettors can bet on simulcast international and interstate horse races. On the other hand, off-track betting is not legal.

The most popular form of gambling allowed in Missouri is gambling at riverboat casinos. At these casinos, one can find all kinds of casino games around, like slots, roulette, blackjack, poker, and other table casino games. Under the amendments of riverboat casino laws, these casinos don’t even have to be actual riverboats but can create artificial moats or ponds to support the notion of riverboat play.

In 2016, daily fantasy sports on the Internet were allowed within Missouri. Participants pay an entry fee to participate in the contests, and the prizes are paid to the winners who have the highest point totals.

The situation with online gambling in Missouri is not so clear cut as is with other land-based forms. At the moment, the only way of legal gambling is daily fantasy sports contests. Other than that, no other provision of gambling law deals with gaming on the Internet in the first place. So, online gambling can be said to exist in a gray area.

It is up to Missourians to decide whether or not they want to play in offshore online casinos. Since they are offshore casinos, they do not need to comply with US jurisdiction and laws and can choose to accept players from the US.

It is good to know that, although these casinos technically are not legal, no one has ever been persecuted for playing there, and they can be licensed and regulated by reputable gaming jurisdiction, like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission or Malta Gaming Authority. This fact will ensure the legitimacy, fairness, and security of the sites and their games.

Where to Gamble in Missouri?

If you are up for casino gambling, there are 13 riverboat casinos licensed for operating in Missouri. They are scattered around urban areas, with four of them around Kansas City and St. Louis, but there are also others along the Missouri River. We have highlighted some of the most frequented ones, with top gaming and entertainment offers.

Harrah’s Kansas City

Harrah’s Kansas City is owned by the renowned Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which only means they bring a piece of Las Vegas with them wherever they go. Harrah’s Kansas City casino resort has that Las Vegas vibe with 392 luxurious rooms, exquisite dining, and a gaming floor that features over 1,500 top slots and dozens of table casino games like baccarat, poker, blackjack, roulette, and many others. All this entertainment awaits on One Riverboat Drive

North Kansas City, MO 64116, 24/7, 365 days of the year.

Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City

Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City is situated on the Missouri River in Kansas City and has been there since 1997. Players have a 15,000 sq ft casino floor to contend with, with over 2,800 slot machines and  57 table games, plus 15 live poker tables that frequently host poker tournaments. The Ameristar Casino Hotel has 184 rooms for the ultimate accommodation experience. This Midwestern gaming hub is found on 3200 North Ameristar Drive, Kansas City, MO 64161, and is open 24/7.

Mark Twain Casino

When you think of Missouri, you think of Mark Twain, so no wonder why there is a Mark Twain Casino you can visit to enjoy the premier casino experience. This Northeast Missouri casino is located on 104 Pierce Street, LaGrange, MO 63448, and is equipped with 430 slots and video poker machines. There are even progressive jackpot machines frequently reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apart from slots, players can enjoy a variety of table games, such as Blackjack, Craps, Crazy4Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, High Five Poker, and others.


Does Missouri have greyhound or horse racing?

Horse racing in Missouri is legal and regulated, but there aren’t any race tracks that offer live racing. Punters can still wager on simulcast races on state and interstate races.

Who Oversees the Casinos in Missouri?

The Missouri Gaming Commission oversees casino gambling in Missouri.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Missouri?

The only legal online gambling form in Missouri are daily fantasy contests. However, no law prohibits players from Missouri to place bets in offshore online casinos.

What games can you gamble on in Missouri?

In Missouri, you can gamble on casino games like poker, roulette, blackjack, slots, and many others. Also, you can place bets on horse racing, as well as gamble on bingo games, pull tabs, and lottery.

What is the Minimum Gambling Legal Age in Missouri?

The minimum legal age for charitable games is 16, whereas playing the lottery and wagering on horse racing requires punters to be over 18. For casino gambling, you need to be at least 21.