Missouri Sports Betting Bill Passes the State House, Moves to Senate

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HB 2502, a Missouri sports betting bill, has the support of major sportsbook operators as well as the state’s professional sports teams and a coalition of casinos in the state. Now, the bill has managed to pass the Missouri state House by a vote of 115-33. It now progresses to the state Senate where it will join other pieces of sports betting legislation in the state government.

This bill would allow residents in the state to place wagers on both college and professional sports games online and in-person. As of right now, no kind of legal sports betting exists in the state of Missouri. However, the state is missing out on tax revenue that could be gained through the implementation of legal sports betting in Missouri. 

Neighboring states Iowa and Illinois both have in-person and online sports betting, and, as a result, have received a boon from Missourians seeking a sports betting outlet. In addition, neighbor to the south Arkansas has expanded to allow mobile sports wagering recently. And, Kansas also has sports betting legislation in the works to legalize it in the state, which would create another funnel for potential tax revenue.

Even so, this Missouri bill may not have an easy path to approval in the state Senate. Earlier in March, committee discussions had already commenced on three other sports betting bills.

At this time in the state Senate, there are two bills that are pretty similar, if not the same, as the House’s bill, HB 2502. There is also another bill sponsored by state Senator Denny Hoskins, who has been a vocal proponent for legalizing sports betting in the state. The bill from Senator Hoskins has a 21% rate of taxation and includes lottery retailers.

HB 2502 would legalize both online and retail sports betting. Retail sports betting would be available at the 13 riverboat casinos in the state. There would be 39 online skins available for mobile sports betting.

The six casinos in the state would be the recipients of 33 of these skins. The remaining six skins would be given to the six professional sports teams in the state. The bill started with a proposed tax rate of 10%.

However, there had been discussions in the committee to try to raise the tax rate. But state Representative Wes Rogers proposed an amendment that actually lowered the tax rate from 10% to 8% in the bill. This was in order to stay under the tax rate currently proposed in the legislation to legalize sports betting in Kansas, demonstrating the states’ competition with each other for sports betting customers and revenue.

An additional amendment was passed in the state House, proposed by state Representative Ben Baker. This amendment allows for support for services to treat problem gambling. This added a requirement for all promotional materials for sports betting to include the hotline number for a problem gambling service. In addition, the state would be required to produce an annual research report on the effect problem gambling has had on Missouri and its residents.

Despite the overwhelming support HB 2502 has received from major sportsbook operators and casinos, there was a holdout. Boyd Gaming ended up being the only casino operator in Missouri to state its opposition to the bill because of the mandate for official league data.

Tennessee sports betting legislation defines official league data as “statistics, results, outcomes, and other data related to a sporting event obtained pursuant to an agreement with the relevant governing body of a sport or sports league, organization, or association whose corporate headquarters are based in the United States, or an entity expressly authorized by such governing body to provide such information to licensees…”

In addition to Boyd Gaming’s opposition, a few legislators also expressed concerns over the official league data mandate as well. The overwhelming concern brought up has been how the mandate could limit competition in the sports betting industry in the state. However, state Representative Dan Houx indicated that he feels removing the official league data mandate would kill the bill because it would likely be a dealbreaker with the coalition of casinos that currently support it.

Though the path to legal sports betting in Missouri is not necessarily clear, there are some indications that legal Missouri sports betting is on the horizon. For one, the fact that neighboring state Kansas is looking to legalize sports betting, adding its name to the list of neighboring states with the legal practice, is likely to spur the process. Missouri will not want to be left in the dust and continue to miss out on the tax revenue that legal sports betting could provide.

Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.

The featured image for this post was sourced on Unsplash.