Two Lawmakers Are Giving NBA, MLB Exactly What They Want On Sports Betting

New MO sports betting bill copy

At least a couple of Missouri lawmakers are buying what the NBA and Major League Baseball are selling when it comes to sports betting.

At last count, we’re up to at least five sports betting bills in Missouri.

The two most recent ones — introduced this week — have the support of the NBA and MLB. And their sponsors are starting a PR push for their legislation.

The legislation appears to be nearly identical to the draft Legal Sports Report obtained last week that was written by or in coordination with Major League Baseball.

What’s new in Missouri sports betting?

Missouri state Sen. Denny Hoskins and state Rep. Dean Plocher announced the introduction of their sports betting bills in parallel this week.

You can see the bills here and here. Called the Comprehensive Missouri Sport Betting and Sports Protection Act, the two lawmakers are advancing legislation that has the blessing of the NBA and MLB, who have been lobbying in a variety of states on sports wagering. The effort in Missouri appears to be the most successful so far.

Here’s Hoskins, in a press release from the lawmakers:

“It’s been estimated that illegal sports betting takes place to the tune of nearly $3 billion dollars a year in Missouri. The time has come to stop pretending a problem doesn’t exist, and bring this activity into the sunlight, create some oversight, while bringing in new revenue to the state as well as jobs and economic activity at our casinos.

But we have to do this the right way, and that means strict, anti-fraud requirements and tight coordination with the sports leagues to ensure Missourians can remain confident games are being played with integrity.”

Giving the leagues everything they want

The bill as written gives the leagues vast control over how sports betting would go down in Missouri. That includes an integrity fee — a one percent tax on all wagers paid to the leagues — for which the leagues have been pushing.

That “fee” equates to the leagues getting roughly 20 percent of all revenue. More on how much leagues could stand to make here.

The bill also gives the leagues access to personal bettor information and control over data rights.

More from the presser:

The legislation also allows a sport’s governing body to limit or restrict betting on their own sports and requires that betting operators retain all information regarding bets for three years.

In addition, the legislation requires casinos to keep 1 percent of the total amount wagered on a sporting event to pay toward a sports betting right and integrity fee. This administrative fee pays for the sport’s governing body’s cost of maintaining the integrity of its sporting events. The legislation also creates penalties for those found guilty of match-fixing and any action associated with the corruption of a sporting event.

‘Put an end to illegal sports gambling’?

This was also in the press release:

State Rep. Plocher said if passed, Missouri could potentially put an end to illegal sports gambling and create strong regulations to ensure consumers are protected and ensure sports games cannot be compromised.

That’s not terribly accurate. The two bills tax sportsbooks at different rates (21 percent and 14 percent). Coupled with the one percent tax on handle, that creates an effective rate of 34  or 41 percent.

Those tax burdens would make it difficult if not impossible for regulated books to compete with the existing black market that serves the US via offshore sportsbooks.

What’s next in MO?

How much mojo do the leagues have in Missouri? We’ll find out if the bill starts moving. MLB has two teams in the state, while NBA has none.

Meanwhile, another bill from Hoskins legalizing video lottery terminals in the state, has sports betting tacked onto it. That legislation is in front of the Senate now.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.