Weekly News – Missouri Sports Betting Bills Passed by House Committee

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The effort to bring legal sports betting to the state of Missouri is once again on the legislative agenda. Earlier in March, two separate bills in the state’s House took an important step further.

House Bills 2502 and 2556 have been crafted by lawmakers as companion pieces of legislation for the 2022 legislative session. The main purpose of these bills is to legalize both retail and online sports betting in the state.

Both of these bills were approved by the House Committee on Public Policy by a vote of 4-2. The next step in the process is a review by the full state House followed by a vote. This latest development should be viewed in a positive light. However, the pair of dissenting votes signals some existing opposition.

One major conduit to legal sports betting would be through Missouri’s current network of 13 land-based casinos. Licensing privileges would be extended to offer both retail sportsbooks and online betting through mobile sportsbook apps.

The other part of the legal sports betting industry in the state would be tied to professional in-state teams through their home stadiums and arenas. The two main centers for pro sports in Missouri are in Kansas City and St. Louis.

The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals are the two main sports entities in the western part of the state. The NHL’s St. Louis Blues and MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals would be the main draw in the east.

These teams would create an immediate attraction for existing US-based sportsbook operators such as FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM.

The language in HB 2502 and 2556 would legalize sports betting on both professional and college sports. The bills go as far as to open up the possibility of sportsbook licenses for qualifying college teams. The University of Missouri is one example as a member of the SEC.

Another provision of this proposed legislation is a 10% tax on sports betting revenue. The projected industry revenue has been set at $96 million on an annual basis. With taxes and fees, the net yearly payout to the state could reach $10.8 million to start.

In January of this year, representatives from in-state casinos and professional sports teams joined forces to form a collaborated effort to lobby state lawmakers for a change. The primary goal was to help accelerate the legislative process for legalizing sports betting in Missouri.

One issue still muddying the waters is Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) as games of chance similar to slots. They currently operate illegally in the state. Many lawmakers are looking to crackdown on their use. Yet, other lobbying groups propose some form of legalization.

The net result of the ongoing VLT issue has hampered past efforts to expand legal gaming options in the state. Missouri lawmakers have been working on this issue for the past four years with no positive outcome.

Many industry insiders believe that the key to legal sports betting in Missouri is to separate the issue from VLT’s. Mounting pressure from neighboring states offering legal sports betting continues to build. The continued existence of unregulated offshore sports betting options in the state is another driving force for change.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.

The featured image for this post was sourced on Unsplash.