There are no laws or statutes that explicitly address online gambling or online poker in Missouri.
Although poker is a game of skill when offered by licensed operators on excursion gambling boats, it otherwise falls within the definition of gambling under the state’s criminal laws (a confusing situation to say the least). Missouri, unfortunately, does not use the Dominant Factor test when determining whether a game is one of skill or of chance. It uses the Material Degree test, a test that causes poker to fall squarely within the definition of gambling.
The state would have residents believe that online gambling is illegal. However, if operations are run outside the state, the usual jurisdictional issue will be in play.
However – and this is a big however – state and federal prosecutors in Missouri have not been impressed by that argument. In October 2012, two Missouri men were sentenced for using internet gambling sites with servers in Costa Rica to place sports bets.
Live poker is alive and well on the riverboat casinos of Missouri. As regulated by the Missouri Gaming Commission, just about every form of “typical” casino poker is permitted. Poker games are permitted by Chapter 313 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, which governs licensed gaming activities. They are offered only on licensed “excursion gambling boats”.
In fact, Missouri is one of the few states that defines poker as a game of skill by law at MRS §313.800. However, that definition is only applicable to poker offered by licensed operators.
Tribal gaming is permitted in Missouri, though there are few tribal casinos. The largest, Indigo Sky, has a licensed poker room.
Home games in Missouri occupy a peculiar section of the law. There is no exception to be found for “social games” in the definition of gambling at Missouri Revised Statutes §572.010. That would seem to imply that home games are swept up in the definition of gambling under the law.
However, there *is* an exception for social games in the definition of “player” found later in the same section. It states that “a person who gambles at a social game of chance on equal terms with other participants therein does not otherwise render material assistance to the establishment” by inviting other players to play. Thus the statute appears to at least contemplate the idea that social games are acceptable.