The Missouri House’s Emerging Issues Committee took less than five minutes to unanimously advance two digital sports betting bills on Thursday. The bills will now move to the Rules Committee and then the House floor for a vote.
The legislation contains language that would allow casinos to have retail sportsbooks and both casinos and professional sports franchises to offer digital platforms, mirroring a bill the House passed in 2022.
At about the same time, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a companion bill, SB 30, while voting against SB 1, the Senate wagering bill that marries legal wagering with legal video lottery terminals (VLTs).
“We appreciate the hard work of the Senate Appropriations Committee to pass sports betting, which is a crucial step towards putting Missouri on a level playing field with its neighboring states,” PENN Entertainment VP of Government Relations Jeff Morris told Sports Handle. “They also sent a clear message that aligns with the overwhelming majority of Missourians who want to keep video slot machines off every street corner in the state.”
PENN owns three casinos in Missouri and a handful of others in neighboring Illinois and Kansas.
On the House side, Thursday’s vote came two weeks after a hearing during which 14 stakeholders voiced support for the bills, HB 556 and HB 581. Should the bills pass, each existing casino would be eligible for up to three digital skins, or platforms, and each professional sports team would be eligible for one. Pro sports franchises would not be allowed to have retail sportsbooks, and there would be an exclusion zone around each stadium.
Official league data mandated, 10% tax
The bills require the use of official league data to settle Tier 2 (or in-play) bets, and the wagering revenue tax rate would be set at 10%. The Missouri Gaming Commission would be the regulator and tax revenue would be earmarked for education initiatives.
What happens next is the real question. As the industry-backed bills move forward, Sen. Denny Hoskins will have to decide whether to get on board and split sports betting from legal VLTs or go the route he went last year, when he filibustered to kill legislation — and later dropped the VLTs from his proposal — but didn’t gain any traction.
During the time that Missouri lawmakers have contemplated legal wagering, the state has become a virtual island in its prohibition on sports betting, and residents and lawmakers have been looking enviously across the borders — particularly at Kansas throughout the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run.
Of the eight states that border Missouri, only two, Kentucky and Oklahoma, have not yet legalized sports wagering, and both have bills circulating in their state capitols. In addition, Missourians have been crossing the border for several years to bet in Illinois and, since last September, to Kansas.