The Missouri Senate is finalizing details on legislation that would legalize sports betting, both retail and mobile, in the Show Me State. The proposal was discussed and approved by the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee on Monday, after having previously been greenlighted by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is currently awaiting action on the Senate full floor, where it could end up in another committee, or head to the governor’s desk for approval.
Legislators discussed an appropriate tax rate for the new market, which could end up anywhere from 8% to 21%. What the tax revenue would go toward has also been a source of debate, with some lawmakers pushing for a portion of revenue to be earmarked for gambling addiction treatment, a common provision in other states’ gambling laws.
The final tax rate is the big dilemma for the bill’s passage: while a Senate bill proposed earlier in 2022 would tax sports betting at a 21% rate, a House-backed 8% rate would be the third-lowest of any state, making it likely a compromise will be reached for the final rate to land somewhere between those two figures.
“I think right now is the time to do something and make it fair and equitable for the people that live here, instead of you know, people sometimes driving across state lines, and then placing bets over there,” said Sen. Lincoln Hough, chairman of the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee, according to KOMU 8.
The issue of gambling dollars ending up in other states is a pressing one, as neighboring Kansas is also making progress in its own sports wagering bill. But Hough believes now it’s the right time for Missouri, with stakeholders finally working together on the effort, and given the combination of two different sports bills.
“Essentially, what you've had over the last several years is sports teams having one position athletes having one position casinos having one position," he said, according to the cited source. "And now it seems that with the two bills we've combined right now, those groups are all aligned, and they're all working together.”
Missouri’s new regulated market would have one of the highest number of licenses in the country, as well as direct participation from pro sports teams. The bill would open up to 39 mobile sportsbook licenses for the state’s 13 casinos -which would also be able to launch land-based operations- and six professional teams.
This heavily contrasts with Kansas, a state with four licensed casinos. The large number of permits to be handed out by the Missouri Gaming Commission means more work, and also likely implies the Show Me State will have to rush to launch before the new NFL season, and that its neighboring state may be first to market.
House Bill 2502 is the legislation that has made it the farthest through the state’s legislature in five years of failed legislation. While Gov. Mike Parson has remained neutral on sports betting, he called a market launch inevitable. It was one of several sports wagering bills introduced in the Missouri legislature earlier this year.