Press "Enter" to skip to content

World Series champion advocates for sports gambling, protecting ‘integrity’ of games

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — When it comes to sports wagering, former Kansas City Royals pitcher and World Series champion Chris Young wants Missouri to get it “right.”

Chris Young speaks to reporters on sports better (ALISHA SHURR/THE MISSOURI TIMES).
Chris Young speaks to reporters on sports better (ALISHA SHURR/THE MISSOURI TIMES).

Young visited the Missouri Capitol Wednesday to meet with lawmakers and advocate for the passage of legislation legalizing sports betting in a way that maintains the “integrity” of games, teams, and those who participate. And according to the former baseball player, Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s SB 327 would do just that.

“The reality of the world in which we live is that [sports betting is] here, and we all have to adapt to that, but I think certainly knowing that it is here, we want it done the right way,” Young, 39, told reporters. “We want the safety and protection of our players, everyone involved in the league, so we know that it’s protecting the industry as a whole, and it’s done in the right way, and I think this bill does that.”

The bill, similar to a version already passed out of a House committee, would legalize betting on sporting games — such as baseball, football, and hockey — in the Show-Me State. The legislation gives the Missouri Gaming Commission regulatory authority while requiring casinos to use official data.

The state would collect a 6.25 percent tax on gross receipts, and casinos would be required to remit an integrity fee of 0.75 percent of the total amount wagered to the sports governing body.

The bill also bars players, coaches, owners, and others involved from betting on their own sport.

“I know how great the state of Missouri is — the fans and the people of the state, and the integrity of the fans and the people here — and on behalf of Major League Baseball, I think it’s important to get this bill right,” Young said. “I think this goes a long way in terms of protecting our sport and our industry and sets an example for other states to follow.”

“This is a very important time for our industry, and certainly we want it done correctly,” Young added.

As for the royalty fee, also called an integrity fee, Luetkemeyer defended the inclusion as a way to offset costs sports leagues would accrue while noting “there is no real precedent for this.”

“We’re in the Show-Me State. We do things our own way,” he said. “I think it’s really an easy decision to make sure we’re standing with our sports organizations to make sure we’re protecting the integrity of the game. … It’s not fair for teams to have increased compliance costs associated with sports betting and for the casinos not to expect that a small percentage of that money they’re going to be generating is going to go to sports teams.”

“This is a very important time for our industry, and certainly we want it done correctly.”

Casinos have been averse to the addition of royalty fees.

“Whether you want to call it an integrity fee or a royalty fee, which is off the total amount wagered, off of the handle, we have concerns with that,” Mike Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association, previously told The Missouri Times. “The issue with the integrity fee or royalty fee is that sports betting has a relatively small profit margin.”

The bill’s fiscal note predicts the legislation could rake in anywhere from $1.9 million to $11.3 million for the state.

Missouri’s General Assembly has debated seven bills this session related to sports wagering. Luetkemeyer’s bill passed out of the Senate Progress and Development Committee last month, and the House passed a similar version out of committee in mid-April.  

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law banning the practice in most states last year.

Young helped the Royals win the World Series in 2015. Since, he’s joined the MLB as the vice president of On-Field Operations.