Missouri Sports Betting Bills Advance Past ‘Obstructionist’ Senator

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Missouri sports betting

A Missouri sports betting effort moved forward in both legislative chambers Thursday, while competing legislation failed to gain support. 

On Thursday, Missouri House and Senate committees pushed forward sports betting legislation supported by the state’s casino companies and professional sports teams. The legislation receiving support Thursday resembles similar 2022 legislation.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee rejected a bill, SB 1, that combines sports betting and video lottery terminals. VLTs played a pivotal role in the failure of the MO sports betting effort last year. SB 1 sponsor Sen. Denny Hoskins spoke on the Senate floor for more than an hour Thursday, saying the Senate does not support gaming in Missouri.

“I’ll be an obstructionist until I get my way,” Hoskins said Thursday, before withdrawing an amendment that allowed him the speaking time.

Preferred MO sports betting bill clear

The three bills advanced Thursday – HB556, HB581 and SB30 – offer the same coalition-backed legislation that provides MO sports betting licenses for the state’s casinos and professional sports teams. 

Representatives from the teams and casinos spoke at hearings supporting both bills

Rep. Dan Houx’s HB556 and Rep. Phil Christofanelli’s HB581 passed the House Emerging Issues Committee, while Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s SB 30 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee

Details of Missouri coalition legislation

Last year, a similar bill from Houx cruised through the House before it was derailed in the Senate.

The bill creates up to 39 mobile skins for Missouri casino operators and sports teams. In-person sportsbooks could also open at the state’s 13 riverboat casinos, while the teams would receive an exclusion zone around their venues.

The legislation establishes a 10% sports betting tax. 

VLT issue remains open in Missouri

Hoskins combined sports betting and VLT legalization into a single bill. Legislators in the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday expressed the desire to separate the issues. 

Hoskins has long been a proponent of both issues, but has threatened to kill sports betting legislation that does not include VLTs. Last year, he filibustered sports betting legislation on the floor for three hours.

Hoskins’ effort made it out of committee last year. Before this year’s session, Hoskins told LSR he did not believe sports betting-only legislation would have enough votes to pass both chambers.

Multiple industry sources told LSR the VLT issue will remain a significant hurdle for legalized Missouri sports betting.