Missouri Sports Betting Bill Crawls Forward From Committee

Written By Pat Evans on March 4, 2022
Missouri sports betting

A bill legalizing sports betting in Missouri is moving forward, but it still has plenty of discussion in its future.

The House Special Committee on Public Policy voted to move an MO sports betting bill forward Wednesday, 4-2. The vote, however, came after several adjustments to the proposed legislation and caveats for future support.

“This bill still needs work,” Committee Chair Rep. Scott Cupps said. “There is a desire by the bodies of this institution to see this bill moving. I agree with that and I’ve gotten commitments from bill sponsors, and many folks with interest in this legislation, they’ll continue to work with some of those concerns.”

The committee first added three amendments to a substitute bill that merged two identical proposals backed by a coalition of Missouri casinos and professional sports teams, HB 2502 and HB 2556. Then the committee voted to move that bill forward to the Administrative Oversight Committee.

Major Missouri sports betting bill components

The bill sponsored by Reps. Phil Christofanelli and Dan Houx would legalize retail and online sports betting in Missouri. The committee held a public hearing on the original bills last week.

Retail sportsbooks could open at the 13 riverboat casinos in the state and there would also be 39 online skins available. Each of the state’s six professional teams would receive one skin, while the rest of the 33 would be divided among the six casino operators.

The proposal includes a 10% tax rate.

Key changes made Wednesday

The committee voted to add three amendments to the bill, two from Rep. Ben Baker and another from Cupps.

Baker’s first amendment prohibits betting on elementary and secondary school competitions. His second amendment increases the annual problem gambling services contribution from $250,000 to $500,000.

Cupps’ amendment adds a five-year phase-out plan for promotional deductions, allowing 100% the first year and gradually stepping down the remaining four years.

Discussions for MO sports betting moving forward

Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Dottie Bailey was vocal with her displeasure the bill is moving forward. While Bailey said she “likes the idea of sports wagering,” she hoped to bet a “bit better of a deal for the state.”

“It’s too soon to take this vote,” Bailey said. “But if you throw enough tantrums in this building and bombard people, money talks, other things walk.”

Cupps gave credit to Christofanelli and Houx for working behind the scenes with the committee to get the bill in its current position. Still, Cupps has a few key pieces he wants to be discussed moving forward:

  • Tax rate
  • Additional problem gambling services support
  • License allocation
  • An offsite wagering fee that gives back to the counties the wagers were placed

Senate sports betting bills start journey

Earlier this week, the Senate read two similar bills, SB 1061 and SB 1046, a second time, sending them to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer and Sen. Dan Hegeman are the bill sponsors.

“The industry and stakeholders have come together to push for these bills, that’s something we have not had previously,” Hegeman told the Jefferson City News Tribune in February.

Missouri neighbors pushing forward

Four of Missouri’s eight neighbors have sports betting live:

Nebraska is working through what legalized retail sports betting might look like after it was approved last year. The remaining three have active sports betting legislation:

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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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