The potential legalization of sports wagering took another step forward in Missouri on Wednesday when a new bill that would regulate sports betting, as well as video lottery terminals, cleared the state’s House Special Committee on Government Oversight and is now headed to the House floor.
Introduced by Republican Representative Dan Shaul, HB 2088 seeks to legalize retail and mobile sports betting in Missouri. Of note, the bill has an “official league data” requirement, a .25% royalty to the professional leagues and the NCAA, which means an off-the-top cut of all wagers to those leagues, whether or or not they’re winners. And for the tax rate, it’d be 9% on gross gaming revenue. The Missouri Lottery Commission would be tasked with regulatory authority. It is at least the third bill filed in Missouri this session, and all include the data mandate and royalty.
Under the direction of the Missouri Gaming Commission, potential operators would be required to apply for a license and pay an initial fee of $25,000. Actual licenses would come at a cost of $50,000 and would be required to be renewed on an annual basis. In the fifth year, operators will be required to pay an additional $10,000 to cover the cost of another full investigation into the operation looking to renew their license.
The bill does allow for licensed facilities to contract out services to third party operators, keeping open the opportunity for many of the industry’s power player sportsbook operators to partner up and have a presence in the state. Any contracted third party would also need to pay the cost in applying for and obtaining a license. Once a license is awarded the third party would also be responsible to “fulfill the certificate holder’s duties” according to the bill.
Sports betting would be legal on excursion gambling boats and via the internet under the bill.
Official League Data
HB 2088 is just the most recent attempt to bring sports betting to the Show-Me State. As recently as December 2019, a pair of Missouri senators pre-filed a pair of sports betting bills, both of which would mandate the use of “official league data”, a controversial topic within the sports betting industry.
Representative Shaul’s bill also opens the door for official league data to be required for determining the outcome of a “Tier 2” or in-play bet, also know as live wagering. The language of the bill is similar to language in many other states where is doesn’t quite mandate the use of official league data, but says that any “sports governing body may notify the commission that it desires to supply official league data … for determining results of tier two wagers.”
There’s likely no circumstance in which a professional league, particularly Major League Baseball, the NBA and the PGA, all of which have vigorously lobbied for the data mandate, would choose not to pursue this option. The language is merely a formality. The bill goes on to say that data should be delivered on “commercially reasonable terms,” and operators would have a chance to prove the terms aren’t reasonable.
Missouri would be the fourth state to mandate the use of official league data. So far, Tennessee, Illinois and Michigan have all passed laws with the data mandate. No state has passed a law requiring that a fee be paid to the professional leagues or the NCAA.
In addition to outlining the framework for sports betting, House Bill 2088 also addresses video lottery terminals. The bill deals with slot machines differently in that licenses would cover a four-year period with administrative fees varying but costing no more than $15,000 to investigate the background of potential operators.
The fees are dramatically lower for retail establishments where the cost will be no more than $500 and just $100 for VLT handlers.