Missouri lawmakers will take another shot at legalizing sports betting this session, five months after neighboring Kansas launched retail and digital wagering and left Missouri nearly surrounded by others with live and/or legal betting. Its only two border states without legal wagering are Kentucky and Oklahoma.
As of Thursday, six betting bills had been filed. Three on the House side were headed to the Emerging Issues Committee and three on the Senate side will rest with the Appropriations Committee. A source told Sports Handle that the Emerging Issues Committee will hold a hearing next week and that the Senate will hold off with any movement until any House action takes place.
That said, two of the Senate bills include legalizing video lottery terminals, which has been a non-starter for the House.
House pushing same proposal as 2022
So far, bills filed by Reps. Dan Houx (HB 556) and Phil Christofanelli (HB 581) have been assigned to the House committee.
Both bills would allow for retail and digital sports betting, create exclusion zones around professional sports venues, tax operators at 10% of adjusted gross revenue, and require the use of official league data to settle Tier 2 wagers.
Some Missouri lawmakers are pushing once again this session to legalize sports betting.
Many have said the state is "stupid" for losing out on money as Missourians travel to Kansas and Illinois to place their bets.#moleg #SportsGambling https://t.co/uxpz5iskfX
— Tiffany Alaniz (@TiffanyAlaniz) January 23, 2023
A bill sponsored by Rep. Dave Griffith, HB 953, would legalize digital and retail sports betting while calling for a user or admission fee for those wagering online or in person. Much of that bill’s text is dedicated to how that fee would be spent, including creating a steamboat legacy museum. That bill would also tax operators at 21% of adjusted gross revenue.
Houx’s bill nearly mirrors one he put forth last year that was backed by a consortium made up of casinos and professional sports teams. His bill would allow for up to three digital skins per existing casino and one each for the professional sports venues. The sports venues would also be entitled to an exclusion zone, meaning they could select the one mobile operator that would be available within a certain radius of their facility. There would be no retail sportsbooks in the exclusion zones.
Both Houx’s and Christofanelli’s bills would name the Missouri Gaming Commission as the regulator, ban prop bets on individual college athlete performance, and require a minimum $500,000 annual contribution to problem and responsible gambling programs. The bills would allow operators to write off 100% of promotional play in the first year before stepping the write-off down by 25% a year until it is eliminated in the fifth live year.
Senate bills still include VLTs
The 2022 version of Houx’s bill made it through the House but was killed by filibuster in the Senate. The Senate Appropriations Committee is chaired by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, whose bill (SB 30) would also have the support of the industry and sports teams. Sen. Denny Hoskins, who favors legalized VLTs and was the architect of the 2022 filibuster, is on the committee.
Sports betting is illegal in Missouri, thanks to @DLHoskins. https://t.co/MkMqsvmoun pic.twitter.com/FF7nncUmp3
— Missouri Senate Fails (@MissouriFails) January 30, 2023
Hoskins, who pre-filed SB 1 in December, has long been a proponent of linking sports betting and legal VLTs, though at the tail end of last year’s session he offered up a compromise that included a 15% tax rate and a $1.25 million annual fee per platform. That fee would be unusual, as most states charge a renewal fee for operators in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, rather than a million or above.
The proposal failed to move, and though Houx pushed to get wagering on the agenda during a special session, Gov. Mike Parson’s office said the request “clearly went beyond the call” of the goal of the special session.
Sen. Nick Schroer’s SB 557 is similar to Hoskins’ bill and includes legalizing VLTs.