Missouri Pro Teams, Casinos Back Sports Betting Effort

Written By Pat Evans on February 23, 2022
Missouri sports betting

A coalition of professional sports teams, casino operators and sportsbook companies are behind the latest push to legalize Missouri sports betting.

A Missouri House Special Committee on Public Policy held a public hearing Tuesday on two identical MO sports betting bills, HB 2502 and HB 2556. There are also two similar bills in the Senate: Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s SB 1061 and Sen. Dan Hegeman’s SB 1046.

The legislators behind the bills believe the coalition of stakeholders provides a strong opportunity to legalize sports betting this year.

“It’s time to get it done,” Rep. Dan Houx, who filed HB 2502, told LSR last week. “It was huge to get the coalition together.”

Missouri sports betting coalition

The coalition includes five of the state’s six casino companies, which operate 13 riverboat casinos in the state, and the six professional sports teams located in St. Louis and Kansas City. The effort also includes major online sportsbook operators.

Boyd Gaming is the lone casino company outstanding and VP of Governmental Affairs Ryan Soultz testified against the bill Tuesday. Soultz’s only hangup on the bill: an official league data mandate.

“If the league data portion came out of the bill, you would find us with the other five [casino operators],” Soultz said.

MO sports betting proposal

The coalition’s proposal includes retail sports betting for the 13 casinos in the state. There would also be 39 mobile skins available, distributed among the casino operators and six professional teams. The breakdown:

  • Affinity Gaming: Six skins
  • Boyd Gaming: Six skins
  • Caesars Entertainment: Six skins
  • Century Casinos: Six skins
  • Penn National Gaming: Six skins
  • Bally’s Corp.: Three skins
  • Professional teams: One skin each

The coalition’s proposed tax rate is 10%. Missouri Gaming Association Executive Director Mike Winter said the state could generate more than $15 million in taxes annually.

Missouri team support

Representatives from each of the six teams spoke during the hearing.

“We’ve all gotten on the same page,” Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said. “I believe it’s a fair compromise for all involved.”

The teams include:

  • MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals
  • MLB’s Kansas City Royals
  • MLS’s St. Louis City SC
  • NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs
  • NHL’s St. Louis Blues
  • NWSL’s Kansas City Current

Sports stadiums could also have sports betting lounges, but no retail windows or kiosks.

The coalition does not include Sporting Kansas City, an MLS team in the Kansas City metro area, as it plays at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas.

Number of issues for MO sports betting

Following Tuesday’s public hearing, several issues appear unsettled, including:

  • Official league data requirement
  • Missouri Gaming Commission role
  • Missouri Lottery role
  • Final tax rate
  • Payment methods accepted for sports wagers, which potentially could include cryptocurrency.

The Missouri legislature runs through May this session. Previous MO sports betting legalization efforts stalled largely because they were often tied to video gaming terminal (VGT) legislation.

“I think this session has more of a sense of urgency,” Hegeman told the Jefferson City News Tribune. “The industry and stakeholders have come together to push for these bills, that’s something we have not had previously.”

Neighboring states open up

Illinois is one of the largest US sports betting markets, hitting $789.6 million in bets in December 2021. To the north, Iowa is one of the more established markets in the US.

Tennessee is a growing mobile-only market, while Arkansas sports betting can expand from retail to mobile next month.

Kansas legislators are looking to legalize sports betting after coming close in 2021. If one of Missouri or Kansas legalizes in 2022, the other could easily follow suit.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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