Missouri House Approves Initial Sports Betting Bills

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A couple of Missouri sports betting bills received initial approval Wednesday by the House to legalize the industry in the state. If passed, Missouri residents will be able to use mobile devices to bet on professional and collegiate sports.

The bill must receive a third approval in the House before it is sent to the Senate.

According to the stakeholders, the House bills are most likely to get the final approval – which can come later this week. However, formidable challenges await the bill in the Senate where some key members differ over the details and scope surrounding sports betting.

If cleared from both chambers, the bill would then go to Gov. Mike Parson for his signature.

The legislative session prorogues May 20.

What Happened on Wednesday?

During Wednesday’s discussion, some representatives said that Missouri residents are still finding their ways to bet on sports by driving to the bordering states, while others use offshore betting sites. Some lawmakers said though it’s not illegal to cross into neighboring states that allow sports betting, it costs Missouri tax revenue that could be used for in-state needs.

One lawmaker raised the concern of the illegal use of sports betting apps by some in the state. Another said that Missouri is not a nanny state and “we can’t keep people from gambling,” adding that those who want to gamble online in Missouri should be allowed to do so.

In introducing his amendment to decrease the tax rate, Rep. Wes Rogers said, “the current rate is zero, so 8% is better than that.”

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx, is backed by the casinos and major sports teams, all of which get a piece of the pie.

Details of the Missouri Sports Betting Bill

According to fiscal notes prepared for the bills, Missourians are estimated to bet nearly $150 million on sporting events. The tax rate was reduced to 8% from 10% prior to Wednesday. It would lower the tax rate slimmer than the rate proposed in Kansas, Rogers said.

Online sports betting is likely to generate $10 million in tax revenue annually for Missouri.

Under the bill in the House, the residents could place a wager on a game at a casino or by using a state-approved digital platform. The Missouri Gaming Commission would deal with regulation and licensing the online platforms such as BetMGM.

The bill would allow each of Missouri’s six licensed casinos to have three skins per casino, which each casino company capped at six total.

Penn National and Caesars Entertainment each operate three casinos in the Show-Me State.

Each of the six major sports teams will also be allowed one for each.

All six major teams and five of the six companies with licensed casinos support the bill that would allow wagering on college and professional sports but not on prep sports.

How Have We Reached Here?

Since the US Supreme Court annulled PASPA in 2018, almost 30 states have regulated sports betting. Missouri lawmakers are among those states considering legalizing the industry since 2018.

The stakeholders are pushing the drive as they feel behind the surrounding states that have legalized the industry, and Missourians are heading to those states to place bets on major events.

This is the first time the lawmakers have been able to bring a piece of legislation agreeable to all the stakeholders.

“This is the first time we got everybody to the table and got 99% of the people to the plate,” the sponsor of the bill told the House.

Will Senate Pass House Measure?

It is too early to say.

Traditionally, VLTs and sports betting have been linked in the Show-Me State. But the casinos, whose version reflects the House bill, want to take the lead in sports betting.

But Sen. Denny Hoskins believes that the issue should be connected, and both should move forward.

Another significant issue is that he proposes a higher tax rate. While assuming a leadership role in Senate on the issue, Hoskins said the House version is a “financial windfall”. He said that he’s more interested in passing a bill that benefits the state taxpayers, education, and Missouri veterans homes.

Mirror bills, filed in the state’s Senate, would levy the industry at 21%, the identical rate casinos pay on the net from other forms of gambling.

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