On Thursday, the Missouri House easily passed two sports betting bills, 115-33, in what was mostly a perfunctory final vote before sending the issue to the Senate for consideration. House members debated and amended the legislation Wednesday before passing it on second reading, making Thursday’s vote more of a rubber stamp.
The bills would allow for statewide mobile wagering and retail wagering at existing casinos. Both casinos and professional sports teams would be allowed to have mobile platforms, though sports teams would not be able to have brick-and-mortar sportsbooks on premises in stadiums or arenas. The meat of the bill was crafted by a coalition of casinos and professional sports teams, and then brought to lawmakers.
“We are thrilled with the overwhelming support from House members and look forward to working with the Senate, and are hopeful for a similar outcome and approval from the governor,” Penn National Gaming’s Jeff Morris told Sports Handle. “Missouri can then join 33 other states and all but one of their neighboring states — at least as of today — in offering legal sports wagering.”
PNG and Caesars each own three retail casinos in Missouri. Should wagering become legal, PNG will offer digital wagering through its Barstool Sportsbook platform. Morris was a key figure in bringing the casinos and teams together ahead of the legislative session.
Challenge coming in Senate
The issue of sports betting likely faces some hurdles in the Senate, as Sen. Denny Hoskins, who has long carried the issue, is not sponsoring one of the bills backed by the coalition of sports teams and casinos.
Hoskins, who would also like to see video lottery terminals legalized, did agree to separate sports betting and VLTs into separate bills this session, but has said that he believes the bills currently moving forward favor casinos. Hoskins had been steadfast in saying he’d like to see a higher tax rate — the House-passed legislation sets it at 8% — and a bill that “benefits Missouri taxpayers, education, and Missouri veterans homes.”
In general, stakeholders have been supportive of the legislation, though all seem to know that the real challenge will be getting it through the Senate.
“iDEA Growth applauds the Missouri House for taking action to ensure consumers are protected and the state benefits from legal, accountable and taxable sports betting,” the stakeholder organization said in a statement Thursday. “We urge the Senate to take this bill up for a vote as soon as possible.”
The legislation will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and bills coming out of that committee have until May 6 for the full Senate to take action.