Missouri House Advances Sports Betting Bill to the Senate

Ameristar Casino and Argosy Casino in Missouri
The Show Me State is one step closer to betting on sports after the Missouri House approved a bill that would legalize sports wagering within the state.

With a vote of 115-33, the State House of Representatives approved last Thursday House Bill 2502 after it was amended in several ways. The bill will now head to the Senate amid other top priorities in the upper chamber. If the senate will approve the bill before the end of the legislative session on May 13th, it will head to the desk of Gov. Mike Parsons for signature.

Amended House Bill 2502

Betting on professional and college teams is legal under the bill but it does not permit wagers on high school prep sports. The state would tax sports betting operations with a tax rate of 8%, which is lower than the original 10% tax proposed under the bill. Missouri’s professional sports teams would be allowed to partner with operators to launch online sports betting while the state’s 13 river boat casinos can launch a sportsbook with up to three skins. The House also added provisions to address gambling problems.

Sponsored by Warrensburg Republican Rep. Dan Houx, it is backed by the state’s major sports teams – the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, St. Louis City men’s soccer club and Kansas City Current women’s club. It is also supported by most of the licensed casino operators within the state. According to Houx, it’s the first time that they “got everybody to the table” on the issue.

Lawmakers Hope to Launch in the Fall

Optimistic lawmakers are hoping to launch legal Missouri Sports Betting on August 1st although that is not official as a lot of things still have to happen. The bill is expected to underdog debates and re-writes, legal processes that every new piece of legislation must endure before it can even get get voted upon. But considering the reported total bets wagered in last month’s Super Bowl and this month’s March Madness, Senators may consider prioritizing the bill with the amount of money the state is missing out on.

Missouri residents are betting on sports anyways, whether its via unregulated offshore sportsbooks, illegal local bookies or the legal sports betting markets of its neighboring states which are just a drive away. With a projected annual sports betting handle of $150 million, the state would get an extra $12 million of taxes at 8% rate which would go a long way in government projects benefiting residents rather than the money going to their neighbors or offshore sportsbooks.

Missouri House to Hear Three Sports Betting Bills This Week

Ameristar Casino and Argosy Casino in Missouri
Three bills aiming to legalize sports betting in Missouri were set to underdo a committee hearing on Tuesday.

Casino gambling is legal in the Show Me State but sports betting is not allowed. More than 20 bills related to sports betting have been filed since 2019 but none of them have come to fruition.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Public Policy is expected to tackle the three bills in an attempt by lawmakers to push legal sports betting after missing out on this year’s Super Bowl LVI betting activities.

Three Sports Betting Bills

SB 764 and SB 643, both referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee last month, would allow online sportsbooks tethered to riverboat casinos with state regulatory approval. Under both bills, each casino will be eligible to have three individually branded platforms. Retail sports betting meanwhile would be permitted in a riverboat casino lounge, or kiosk-type sites at casinos or their hotels and restaurants.

Meanwhile, SB 1046 is similar to the two bills but it allows the licensing of a mobile sportsbook in newly-established “designated sports districts” surrounding pro sports venues. This sports district betting would be in addition to the mobile and retail sports betting options.

SB1046 also requires all sports betting activities to be processed through servers located at the riverboat casinos in order to satisfy the constitutional requirements of the state.

Revenues to be Allocated for Education Budget

The three bills up for consideration all aim to allocate tax collections from sports betting to Missouri’s public education system. K-12 schooling and academics have become top issues in recent years as the budget for education has dwindled amid increased school costs.

Missouri ranked next to last among U.S. states in 2020 as far as K-12 funding was concerned. According to public records, only 32% of the state’s per-student funding comes from the budget of the government. The other 68% is generated via local funding and for residents, that means taxes.

If the sports betting bills are to be believed, legal Missouri Sports betting could bring in up to $15 million in funding, which would be a great start for legislators in trying to make up for the education budget deficit.