Can Sweeteners Make Integrity Fee Easier To Swallow In Missouri Sports Betting?

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Missouri sports betting

Why that’s the integrity fee‘s music — and it’s coming from a Missouri sports betting bill!

The Missouri House General Laws Committee amended H 119 Monday to include an integrity fee of 0.25% of handle to pro sports leagues and state universities. The NFL, MLB and NHL have franchises located in St. Louis and Kansas City.

The amendment inserting the integrity fee also creates a fee of 0.6% to fund maintenance and upkeep of Missouri sports stadiums. That fee would be delivered only to leagues with a presence in the state.

Beyond the MO sports betting amendments

Committee members also voted to weaponize official data in Missouri in advancing the bill on a 7-3 vote. The bill allows leagues to require operators to use official data in settling any bet unrelated to the final score of a game.

Those provisions rankle the sports betting industry, but they pair with a friendly 8% tax rate and a nominal $10,000 application fee. Sweetest of all for operators is statewide mobile wagering, including three online skins per licensee.

Rep. Jon Carpenter pointed out during the hearing that because “every one-tenth of one percent is equivalent to a 2 percent tax,” the bill creates an effective tax rate much higher than most states after taking the fees into account.

Three amendments from Rep. Peter Merideth failed by voice vote. Merideth tried to force a referendum on sports betting and to limit legal sports betting to riverboats. He also tried to charge a so-called admission fee of $2 per person for every week a patron places a bet using a mobile platform.

Will integrity fee stick in Missouri sports betting?

H 119 looks like an amalgam of requests from varied stakeholders. Its mishmash composition is not lost on committee chair Rep. Dean Plocher, who answered questions about certain provisions with assurances they might not last.

“I don’t think the measure that we voted out here today will (be) the measure that actually takes hold on the floor,” Plocher said.

If the integrity fee somehow survives in Missouri sports betting, it would be the first time a state chose to enact one. The original version of H 119 included a 0.75% royalty to pro leagues — higher than leagues are asking this year after starting with a 1% request in 2018.

Not the only MO sports betting bill

The path to legal sports betting in Missouri will wind through the Senate as well, where a pair of bills remain under consideration.

S 44 mirrors some of the language from H 119, including statewide mobile sports betting and a potential official data requirement. It also features an effective 14.5% tax on gross gaming revenue, as well as a 0.5% of handle fee for stadium maintenance.

S 222 looks a lot like H 119 as well, although the tax rate of 6.75% would match Nevada‘s as the lowest in the nation. The Missouri sports betting bill also authorizes mobile wagering throughout the Show-Me State.