Missouri Committee Sends Sports Betting Bill to Senate Vote

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Missouri sports betting bill headed to the Senate floor votes after a key senate committee advanced the measure Tuesday. The bill cleared the House, 115-33, last month.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriation Committee voted 8-1 to move HB 2502 and HB 2556 to the Senate floor, completing each bill’s legislative journey through committees.

If the upper chamber also clears the bill, it will be sent back to the House again to settle minor changes.

If both chambers agree to the final shape of the bill, it will be sent to Gov. Mike Parson, whose signature will give legal effect to the measure passed by the legislature.

Missouri sports betting bill would legalize retail and mobile betting statewide.

But the Bill is “Still a Work in Progress”

Though HB 2502 and HB 2556 cleared the Senate committee, Sen. Dan Hegeman – the committee chairman – said the Missouri sports betting plan is still a “work in progress.”

Before the Senate takes up the bills, Hegeman will produce a substitute bill in a bid to increase the 8% tax rate approved by the lower chamber.

“There’s still work in progress,” Hegeman said, adding he would prefer to see more funding earmarked for problem gambling.

The committee chair said the bill was passed to keep it rolling, adding that it is far from being a finished product, according to a Missouri-based newspaper.

The rest of the legislation approved by the House last month will remain largely unchanged.

The Missouri Senate adjourns on May 13.

Missouri Senate Wants 21% Tax Rate

Missouri lawmakers are in neck-in-neck competition with their counterparts in neighboring Kansas, who’re also racing toward the finishing line to legalize sports betting.

The only issue between the Missouri House and Senate is the decision over the final tax rate.

The upper chamber seeks a higher sports betting tax rate than House Bill 2502 calls for. Hegeman said the Senate would increase the tax rate (8%) proposed by the House.

A senate bill from earlier this year would impose 21% sports betting tax – the same percentage is levied at the casino table games.

New York and Pennsylvania tax their sports betting industries at 51% and 36%, respectively.

The 8% tax was a symbolic move when the House passed sports betting measure in late March. The Missouri lawmakers intentionally kept it lower than the proposed 10% in a Kansas sports wagering bill.

The final rate would be somewhere between 8% and 21%, as whatever the Senate passes must be concurred by the House before the final proposal ends up at the governor’s desk.

How Have We Reached Here?

Rep. Dan Haux sponsored HB 2502, which is one of the several bills filed with a proposal preferred by the casinos and major sports teams, and mobile sportsbooks.

The proposal allows on-site and mobile wagering, including brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at Missouri’s 13 casinos. As many as 39 mobile skins are allowed under this – 33 for the casino operators and six for professional sports teams in the state.

Missouri lawmakers might be pushed to finalize sports betting legislation before Monday when the neighboring Kansas Senate returns from a three-week recess. Both states are vying to outpace each other in legalizing sports betting.

If Missouri sports betting is taxed at 8%, the state will raise $9 million annually. However, a 21% rate could draw nearly $163 million in tax revenue during the same period.

The House-based 8% rate would be the third-lowest of any state with regulated sports betting. It was proposed following an amendment from Rep. Rogers of Kansas City, who believed Missouri’s tax rate should be lower than Kansas.

Competing with Kansas Over an NFL Team

Kansas plans to legalize sports betting under a 10% tax rate next week. Their lawmakers also proposed spending 80% of the tax revenue on a new football stadium to attract Kansas City Chiefs – a professional football team based in Missouri.

During a recent hearing in Missouri, a lawmaker asked Chiefs representatives why they should be granted a sports wagering license if they plan on leaving the state. There were rumors that the Chiefs are moving to Missouri.

However, the Chiefs’ Vice President of Civic Affairs, Anne Scharf, did her best to dispel the notion that the Chiefs are moving anywhere. She answered that the NFL team realizes the Missouri license is conditioned with them staying in Missouri.

Missouri lawmakers must agree to the final shape of the bill by May 13 – the final day of Missouri’s 2022 session.

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