Missouri lawmakers reconvened in Jefferson City Wednesday for the start of a series of veto, extraordinary, and technical sessions, none of which appears to allow sports wagering to be reconsidered, but Rep. Dan Houx filed a betting bill anyway. The bill is one of five filed and four that got first readings in the House. Twenty-two bills have been filed in the Senate.
The bill, HB 4, is similar if not a mirror image to the amended version of HB 2502, which passed the House in March. Houx sponsored that bill, which was sent to the Senate but did not pass.
Under both bills, each of the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos would be entitled to a retail sportsbook and three mobile skins per location. The number of skins, though, would be capped at six per entity. For example, Caesars and PENN Entertainment, which each own three casinos, would each be limited to six skins.
Professional sports teams in the state would be eligible for digital platforms, but physical sportsbooks would not be permitted at professional sports venues.
Houx’s proposal has the backing of the casinos and professional sports franchises, all of which participated in crafting the language of HB 2502. A coalition of casinos and sports teams was formed ahead of the session to discuss sports betting, and Houx’s bill ultimately included language the coalition had been working on.
After the bill passed the House, pushback was expected in the Senate, and in the end, Sen. Denny Hoskins, who wants video lottery terminals legalized and has included that in his own sports betting bills, killed the bill with a filibuster. Hoskins later came back with another proposal, but for the fifth straight session lawmakers failed to come to consensus before the session closed.
Still trying to catch Kansas?
Lawmakers in neighboring Kansas did pass a legal wagering bill this year, and sports betting went live there Sept. 1, a week ahead of the NFL season. Lawmakers from both states were essentially looking over the border at one another throughout the process. In the first week of legal betting in Kansas, approximately 104,000 people in Missouri tried to place bets through licensed Kansas operators but were blocked by geofencing software. Since Kansas legalized, Twitter has been littered with jabs and signs of frustration:
KMBC Channel 9 interviewed the right guy about sports betting! Stoked to get this legal in Kansas.
Missouri needs to get on it !
Obviously not the first time Kansas beat Missouri in something 💸💸 pic.twitter.com/f5TMsCgCfZ
— Blake Cooper (@blakecooper25) May 13, 2022
Missouri deserves all the MISERY. Only time in my life I rooted KSU. Thank you Wildcats and thank you legalized sports betting.
— Max Merriman (@MaxMerriman2) September 10, 2022
I legit don't understand why this sports betting issue is so difficult in Missouri.
— Carrington Harrison (@cdotharrison) May 11, 2022
So, why did Houx file?
According to St. Louis Public Radio, Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons called the extraordinary session in order to reach a resolution on an income tax break and tax credits related to agriculture. In an extraordinary session, lawmakers are tasked with considering a specific subject and cannot act on unrelated legislation. Like other bills on the docket — including one that would legalize recreational marijuana — Houx’s bill has nothing to do with the reason for the special sessions, and it’s unclear if HB 4 will be considered.
The restrictions on what can be considered during the extraordinary session, which began Wednesday and will reconvene next Wednesday, raise the question of why Houx filed his bill. It’s possible Houx filed his bill in response to the Kansas launch and as a signal to Missouri lawmakers that the issue is still pending.
The governor would have to expand the agenda of the extraordinary session in order for HB 4 to be considered. The 2023 legislation session begins on Jan. 4 and is set to run through May 30. No bills from previous sessions may be carried over. The first filing date for the new session is Dec. 1, 2022, and Hoskins has promised that he’ll bring yet another bill, and it’s likely other lawmakers will, too.
There are additional consequences beyond lost tax dollars when one state legalizes sports betting and its neighbor doesn't. Because I could place bets here, I got today's BBQ lunch in Kansas City, Kansas and not Kansas City, Missouri
— Ryan Butler (@ButlerBets) September 9, 2022