On Thursday, the Special Interim Committee on Gaming in the Missouri House of Representatives heard testimony and discussed the sports betting, fantasy sports and video lottery terminals.
The three-hour affair was packed with testimony from industry experts and stakeholders representing land-based casino properties and groups that operate primarily online. The tone of the hearing was one of optimism for Missouri’s effort to find to meet pent-up demand in a state touched by four other states to have legalized sports betting at least in some capacity (Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee). Representatives who weighed in mostly showed support and a couple of them forthrightly stated their desire to see it legalized.
After some short testimony about the future of VLT’s, Eilers & Krejcik Managing Director of Sports and Emerging Verticals, Chris Krafcik was the first of the ten speakers to address the committee. He laid out five policy points that he hoped would address the singular larger issue of how legal sports betting could benefit the state and capture the greatest amount of demand.
Mobile gaming a must
Krafcik underscored that legalization would not just bring generate revenue, but also to protect consumers from offshore, illegal sports betting operations. He also emphasized the need for competitive pricing to covert current customers of such operators to a regulated market, the need to offer as many games possible by not restricting what sports and leagues can be wagered on, and for giving customers easy access to account creation, and perhaps the most talked-about issue, the need for mobile betting to be included in any future laws.
During Krafcik’s testimony, Representative Wes Rogers (D) began to help illustrate how competing states may already be taking business from Missouri through legal operations while others on the precipice of legalization, like Kansas, will soon draw from the state, too.
Multiple witnesses made clear that mobile wagering ought be included in any proposal in order to drive players away from black market sites and into (future) tax revenue-generating apps of Missouri. iGaming industry veteran Sue Schneider compared it to online banking to hit the point home. DraftKings Government Affairs representative Chris Cipolla and FanDuel Government Affairs Manager Stacie Stern testified together, both hammering home the need for inclusion of mobile gaming to provide customers unencumbered access to legal platforms.
Odds and ends
Representatives generally showed opposition to sports league-imposed “integrity fees” or a mandate for “official data” usage by sportsbooks, indicating a preference to leave those arrangements between the respective parties. Scot Mcclintic, Head of Sportsbook at Penn National Gaming, called it “double-dipping” on fees for the data and a “monopolistic” request from sports leagues.
Another item brought up for discussion was whether Missouri should include a demand for customers to create sportsbook accounts in person or give them the ability to do that over the internet. Those who touched on the topic were opposed to requiring customers register in person, citing the strong technology that already exists for ID verification, and in-person verification is a strong inhibitor to people completing the account creation process.
Additionally, the notion of how best to increase revenues for the state was tied to keeping taxes at a minimum so that legalized sportsbooks would have the ability to compete with black-market books and provide the same service in a regulated market.
The Special Interim Committee on Gaming in the Missouri House of Representatives will meet again on November 7 and it is expected that a representative from Major League Baseball will be in attendance.