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Sports betting simplified
Missouri boasts two major cities with major league pro sports galore. St. Louis offers the MLB Cardinals and NHL Blues. At the same time, Kansas City is home to the NFL Chiefs and MLB Royals. Big-time college sports are also a part of the sports landscape with the Missouri Tigers of the SEC. There is also plenty of college sports passion for neighboring teams. The Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Iowa Hawkeyes, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Illinois Fighting Illini all have large followings.
But the state animal of Missouri is the mule. The mule is known for being stubborn, prickly, hard-headed, and difficult. And that would describe Missouri politicians and their inability to legalize sports gambling. Still, there is a belief that it will happen sooner rather than later.
State of Missouri Sports Betting Overview
Should sports betting become legal in Missouri, the state already has 13 casinos that could begin offering in-person betting.
A bill was introduced in 2018 to allow these existing casinos and daily fantasy companies to begin offering sports betting also. The bill failed to advance past the committee stage, and other bills in 2019 suffered similar fates.
The House committee introduced and cleared three bills, H 2318, H 2284, and H 2088, in 2020. The bills allow for legalized in-person and online sports betting but differ in the number of tax rates levied on operators.
While discussions still exist around who would regulate the industry and possible integrity fees to the leagues, unfortunately, these bills had to be shelved for 2020 as legislation was slowed due to COVID-19.
Because Missouri has America’s 11th-largest casino market, lawmakers feel pressured to compete with neighboring states.
State of Missouri Sports Betting Timeline
In 2023, Multiple sports betting bills were introduced during the 2023 Legislative session, including SB 30, which passed the House but failed in the Senate near the finish line.
All the introduced legislation failed during the 2023 session, with Sen. Denny Hoskins playing a key role. Rep. Hoskins wants sports betting tied to regulatory language for video lottery terminals and participated in filibusters throughout the session, including an eight-hour stand on April 5 to block a sports betting bill.
The Hoskins obstruction began in 2022 when he prevented Rep. Dan Houx’s proposal despite a coalition of the state’s professional teams, casinos, and national sportsbook operators backing the legislation.
There was renewed hope in 2022 for Missouri online sports betting. A proposal from a coalition backed by the state’s professional sports teams, casinos, and national sportsbook operators had steam.
Legislation containing the proposal passed the House and advanced to the Senate floor. In the Senate chamber, however, the proposal was filibustered by the author of a competing bill.
The casino disagreed with the new compromises, while three alternate proposals were presented to the coalition. The Senate adjourned for the year without acting on a sports betting bill, leaving legalization hopes to future years.
In 2021, While there was momentum from previous years’ efforts, Missouri sports betting legislation failed to gain too much traction in 2021. A main bill legalizing sports betting fell to the side without casino support as it was tied to video lottery terminal regulation.
Despite the progress made in the special committee at the end of 2019, Missouri legislators introduced six bills in 2020, and most had the same problems as old bills.
Even after what Rep. Dan Shaul said in the special committee, he introduced a bill with an integrity fee and official league data. That bill, which also included video lottery terminals and allowed the lottery to offer games based on the outcomes of sporting events, quickly advanced to the House floor.
Two other bills advanced with committee votes, Rep. Cody Smith’s H 2284 and Rep. Phil Christofanelli’s H 2318.
Both their bills limited MS sports betting to riverboat casinos, permitting online platforms to tether with the casinos. Smith removed the integrity fee from his bill in the committee, leaving the official league data mandate.
Christofanelli’s bill didn’t include an integrity fee or data mandate and kept the tax rate at 6.75%, the same as Nevada.
With three bills primed for the House floor entering March, it appeared Missouri was ready to move on sports betting. Then the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the session. When lawmakers went back to work, sports betting was not a focus.
After three legislative sessions, the Show-Me State seems better to grasp the best practices for sports betting legislation. We’ll see if lawmakers take what they have learned into 2021.