Already passed House

Missouri sports betting bill: Senators seek higher tax rate, more funds against problem gambling

Missouri Sen. Denny Hoskins.
Reading time 2:22 min

Proposed sports betting legislation for Missouri might end up featuring a higher tax rate than initially introduced. The bill passed in the state House last month, which sets the rate at a low 8% -lower than all but one of surrounding states with legalized markets-, is highly unlikely to retain this tax proposal if passed in the state Senate.

At a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Hegeman said he wanted it to be higher than the 8% approved in the House, reports Missouri Independent. While he didn’t specify a rate, he did note that the bill started with a 10% tax and that sports betting legislation introduced in the Senate has set it at a comparably higher 21%.

Another point in regards to the House bill that was questioned during the committee hearing is revenues estimates. Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, noted that in his 21% tax rate version of the bill revenues of $153 million a year were anticipated, while the House proposal included estimates of about $10 million annually.

Additionally, he said that, by setting the rate at 21% -the tax casinos currently pay on their net profits-, the state would get the difference while in the House bill, “the casinos would get the difference."

The House bill has received support from both casinos and pro sports teams in the state, and calls for the legalization of both mobile and retail gaming. While some lawmakers pointed out the 8% tax rate, fairly close to Iowa’s 6.75%, would be too low, president of the St. Louis Cardinals Bill DeWitt III defended the need for “a fair tax rate” that benefits both industry and state.

Conversations are most likely to take place not only in regards to tax, and how one defines a “fair” rate, but also on problem gambling and a potential expansion of gaming-related disorders following legalization. While the bill sets aside $500,000 for the state fund that provides counseling and other support for problem gamblers, some think this is not enough.

State Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, defended the bill, stating it promotes efforts to create awareness about problem gambling and a self-reporting system for exclusion, while the proposal also calls for casinos and vendors to submit a plan for addressing problem gambling. However, Hoskins argued these efforts may not be sufficient.

The senator said the bill does not provide adequate funding for problem gambling, noting other states devote millions to the cause, further reports Missouri Independent. “All accounts say we are underfunded in our problem gambling fund at $250,000 without sportsbooks,” he said.

Lastly, another pressing topic discussed during the meeting was a potential Kansas City Chiefs’ move to Kansas. Each of the state’s six major teams would be able to operate a skin, but reports that the Chiefs might relocate led senators to question whether the team would be required to give up theirs if they left Missouri.

While some lawmakers suggested skins should thus be owned by the venues and stadiums, instead of sports franchises, Anne Scharf, director of civic affairs for the Chiefs, said the relocation idea was still being explored and that if a move is coming, it would not be soon: the team has nine years left on its lease of the Arrowhead Stadium.

If approved, the bill would allow guests to bet on college and pro sports, while banning wagering on prep sports. The proposal would also require gaming platforms to use official league data for settling bets, a provision that had been publicly opposed by Boyd Gaming.

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