Sports Betting Showing Life in Missouri

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There is a sign of light at the end of the long sports betting tunnel in Missouri.

State Representative Dan Houx out of Warrensburg (R-54) says that the previous impasse in the state capitol might be coming to an end.

“I’m working with Senator [Denny] Hoskins (R-21),” he said. “We had a meeting this week. I’m very optimistic that we’re going to come to an agreement to get it done.”

The Areas of Agreement

Houx and Hoskins agree that sports betting should be legalized in the state of Missouri. Almost everyone else in the state legislature also agrees with that, as demonstrated by the 118-35 vote last month in the House to legalize and tax sports betting.

Missouri is surrounded by legalized sports betting. Iowa began taking sports bets in 2019. Illinois first started taking bets in March of 2020, Arkansas in 2021, and Kansas joined the mix in 2022. An overwhelming number of Missouri lawmakers see their residents going to other states to spend their money, and they naturally want to keep those dollars at home.

The bill that was passed by the House and sponsored by Houx would see Missouri impose a 10% tax rate on sports betting operators, which would add an estimated $20 million every year to the state’s coffers.

The NHL’s St. Louis Blues, MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals, and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs all approve of sports betting. So do the state’s casinos, which have been operating in Missouri legally since 1992.

Areas of Disagreement

The sticking point between what has been passed in the House and what is being proposed in the Senate is the inclusion of video lottery machines. Senator Hoskins’ attempt to pass a VLT provision in the bill is said by Houx to be the reason it was pulled off the calendar.

“Everybody wants sports gambling. They don’t want, or they haven’t talked about, VLTs.”

Which makes it all the more interesting is that it’s Houx who is saying that all signs point to a breakthrough on discussions, and that a bill could still get passed during this current legislative session.

The last day of the legislative session is May 12. Most of the pressure is on Hoskins and the pro-VLTs to recognize that sports betting can and will be passed if they are willing to shelve the VLT question for now.

The latest version in the Senate also calls for a 15% take rate on sports betting operators, as opposed to the 10% proposed in the House.

Other Possible Avenues to Legalization

Houx and Hoskins are the major players in this most recent Show-Me showdown. But there are at least four other legislators who are working to make legalization a reality in Missouri.

In the House, there have been bills filed by Representatives Phil Christofanelli (R-104, St. Peters) and Dave Griffith (R-60, Jefferson City). In the Senate, there are proposed bills from Senators Tony Luetkemeyer (R-34, Buchanan and Platte Counties) and Nick Schroer (R-107, St. Charles County.)

Republican Governor Mike Parsons hasn’t been a vocal advocate for legalized sports betting. But he has acknowledged publicly that it is “going to happen.”

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