There are still three weeks left in the Missouri legislative session, but sports betting legislation appears to be a long shot.
Rep. Dan Houx and Sen. Denny Hoskins are discussing potential deals to push MO sports betting to the finish line, but industry sources are less than optimistic about its chances. The lack of enthusiasm comes after Hoskins led an eight-hour filibuster that significantly altered SB 30, an identical companion to Houx’s House MO sports betting bill that now awaits action in the Senate.
“[Hoskins] and Houx will probably keep talking for the next [few] weeks and it’ll either break lose with 48 hours left in the session or it won’t,” said one source.
Hoskins in control in Missouri
Hoskins was a known hurdle for sports betting in Missouri entering the 2023 session. While a sports betting proponent, Hoskins has shown he will let sports betting suffer the fate of video lottery terminals, an issue he holds close to his heart. VLTs are unregulated slot machine-like devices placed in gas stations and convenience stores.
Earlier this session, Hoskins promised to play obstructionist in hopes of getting his way. Hoskins derailed a Houx bill last year and could do so again this year. During his filibuster on the floor last month, Hoskins’ proposal to include VLTs lost, 20-11.
“Hoskins is apparently sticking to his guns on VLT despite getting handed the L on the floor amendment a few weeks back,” a source told LSR this week. “Still time, but people are getting increasingly pessimistic.”
With all this in mind, one industry source simply called Missouri, “The Denny Hoskins show.”
Pushing sports betting forward in Missouri
While VLTs have one less leg to stand on, this session demonstrates one lawmaker can knock out a piece of legislation. Still, a powerful coalition of professional sports teams, casinos and sportsbook operators is driving the proposal in the Houx legislation.
The proposal crossed over to the Senate for the second-straight year last month, 118-35. It now awaits action by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Hoskins sits on the committee, but his own SB 1, a sports betting and VLT bill, did not advance out of it at the beginning of the session.
Houx’s bill advanced through the House with plenty of time left in the session. That left proponents hopeful there was a way to work out a deal. The clock, however, has quickly ticked away.
What could MO sports betting look like?
The coalition-backed legislation includes in-person sportsbooks for the 13 riverboat casinos in Missouri.
Casino operators and professional sports teams can partner with up to 39 online sportsbook operators.
While Houx’s bill carries a 10% tax on sports betting revenue, the rate has been a major point of discussion. Houx said previously he is open to “finding a happy medium.”