Missouri sports betting proponents are riding a wave of optimism this week in spite of looming challenges.
“The same dynamics as in years past still exist, but we have three months to reach an agreement or otherwise figure out a way through the Senate,” said Sean Ostrow, a lobbyist with the Sports Betting Alliance.
The optimism comes as Rep. Dan Houx expects his HB556 to hit the House floor for a vote next week. Houx’s sports betting legislation comes with the support of a large coalition of Missouri sports teams, casino companies and sportsbook operators. A similar bill from Houx made it to the Senate last year before Hoskins thwarted them.
Missouri sports betting bills get push
Last week, Houx and several similar companion bills advanced through their House and Senate committees. While those pushed forward, Hoskins’ sports betting bill, which also includes video lottery terminal legalization, failed to move out of its committee.
Multiple legislators expressed a desire to separate sports betting from the VLT issue, including sports team representatives who felt the additional issue could kill the bill. Hoskins then spent an hour on the Senate floor expressing his displeasure and threatening to kill any other sports betting legislation this year.
Houx’s bill creates up to 39 online skins and 13 in-person sportsbooks at Missouri riverboat casinos. His legislation would tax sports betting revenue at 10%.
Senate path still unknown
Houx told LSR this week he has not heard how the Senate intends to approach sports betting. Last week, Hoskins threatened to play obstructionist, as he did last year, on the Senate floor when his bill failed to advance out of committee.
An industry source suggests Hoskins might insert some of his bill’s language into any final language. For that to work, there would need to be some form of agreement between the teams, casinos and sportsbooks to allow some VLT legalization in the state.
“They have to be convinced to not stop forward progress,” the source said, in regards to all stakeholders.