Two Missouri Sports Betting Proposals Introduced in First Legislative Session

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2023’s failed efforts to legalize sports betting in Missouri are already old news. Lawmakers in the state have already introduced two new bills aiming to go again in 2024.

The first bill, SB52, was introduced by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R-34). The second proposal is from Senator Denny Hoskins (R-21). However, Hoskins’ proposal comes wrapped up in his desire to legalize Video Lottery Terminals in Missouri. The Senator has previously said he will not vote for a sports betting bill without VLTs, and has filibustered sessions where such proposals were discussed.

In 2023, we reported on the high-profile endorsement of a potential Missouri sports betting market by the state’s top sports teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, the coalition of sports teams is backing their own sports betting bill, which is currently seeking the 170,000 signatures it needs for inclusion on November 2024’s ballot.

The fragmented nature of the efforts to legalize online and retail sportsbooks in Missouri could end up frustrating the process, although it is possible one particular effort could succeed where others fail.

A Tale of Two Bills

The first bill, introduced by Sen. Luetkemeyer, is his second consecutive attempt to legalize sports betting in Missouri, following an unsuccessful bid in 2023.

This bill, SB852, proposes a framework in which the riverboat Missouri casinos could partner with up to three online sports betting operators.

Additionally, it allows the state’s professional sports teams to each partner with one online sportsbook. To operate, these entities would have to pay a $100,000 licensing fee, with renewals every four years.

The bill draws a clear line by excluding elementary and school athletic events and prohibiting prop betting on college sports or games featuring Missouri teams.

Fiscal measures include a 12% tax on Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR), with a provision for promotional credit deductions over a gradually reducing five-year period.

The second bill, filed by Sen. Hoskins, has a broader aim. While it includes language on sports betting akin to SB852, its primary objective is the legalization of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) across Missouri.

Named the “Honoring Missouri Veterans and Supporting Missouri Education Act,” SB824 offers a slightly lower tax rate of 10% on GGR for operators. SB824 will also only allow one partner per casino. But like SB852, it includes measures for promotional credit deductions.

Sen. Hoskins’ insistence on including VLT language in any sports betting legislation has been a significant roadblock for Missouri sports betting in the past.

His commitment to this cause has led to filibustering efforts that have stalled sports betting bills without VLT provisions. This fragmentation in legislative efforts contributed to the failure of sports betting legalization in 2023, with similar outcomes in the previous years.

Public and Business Perspectives

The public sentiment and business interests in Missouri are increasingly aligned towards the legalization of sports betting. Governor Mike Parson recently acknowledged both bills, but expressed that it would be tough to get either one passed.

“You know, it’s coming,” said Parson. “I don’t know when, but it’s coming. I think things like that will be tough to get through this year.

“I don’t know that it will, or it won’t. You’re going into an election year, so the reality is that not a lot of major things happen in that time.”

In the business sphere, establishments like Harbell’s sports bar in downtown Springfield, Missouri, are finding their own creative ways to engage with sports betting within legal limits.

“Sports gambling isn’t legal here,” said Stevenson, talking recently to local outlet KY3 News.

“But it is a big thing. And people always interact more when there are a little bit of stakes on the line. Now, there are no stakes for the customers. Here, we put up our own stakes. So, we let the staff make their picks on Monday night, Thursday night, and Sunday night. And customers can pick against the staff.”

The involvement of the major Missouri sports teams this time might help swing things. But for now, the future of sports betting in the state remains up in the air.

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