Eyeing both retail and online gaming

Missouri lawmakers introduce legislation in renewed push for legal sports betting

Reading time 2:04 min

Missouri lawmakers are proposing new legislation seeking to legalize sports betting. State Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, introduced House Bill 4 last week in an effort to regulate the practice within the Show Me State. According to online records, the Missouri House could discuss the bill as soon as this week.

The bill was introduced as Missouri lawmakers congregated once again at the Capitol for a special session to address tax cut proposals. The sports wagering legislation, which took many by surprise, calls for new provisions to legalize retail activity on state riverboat casinos and approve sports district mobile licenses for online operators.

Casinos would be entitled to a retail sportsbook and at least three mobile sports wagering platforms per location, reports Fox4. Other components of the bill include initial application fees up to $150,000 for providers; a tax rate of 10% of adjusted gross receipts; and an annual license renewal fee no larger than $50,000. The bill also calls for a $10,000 fee to cover the cost of a full reinvestigation of the provider every four years.

According to the legislation, revenue from taxes would be deposited into the State Treasury and credited to the “Gaming Proceeds for Education Fund.” The bill is similar in its main provisions to one Houx introduced last year –House Bill 2502– that included language supported by a coalition of casinos and pro sports teams, including many in Kansas City and St. Louis.

“All the states surrounding us already have it, so we're losing revenue,” Houx told KMBC. “We had a meeting a couple of weeks back, House Republicans, and every member of the House came up to me and said, ‘hey, the number one thing we're hearing from constituents is sports gambling, why we couldn't get it done.’”

According to Houx, Missouri isn’t just missing out on tax revenue, but bars and restaurants are also losing money that is currently being spent across state lines. And while the sports betting bill he is now introducing is similar to the one he pushed for last session –which passed the House but fell apart in the Senate over licensing fees– the State Rep. hopes the results will be different this time around, with local leaders and teams again on board with the plan.

Houx says the bill will be ready to go before lawmakers on Wednesday. Gov. Mike Parson still has to decide whether to include the bill in the special session, further notes KMBC. If not, Houx says he'll introduce it again in January. Both the State Rep. and fellow supporters claim the legislation could bring tens of millions of dollars to Missouri each year.

Dozens of US jurisdictions –including neighboring states Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa and Tennessee– have already legalized sports betting. The latest of them to regulate the practice has been Kansas, a move that could be putting pressure on Missouri to follow suit.

Since Kansas sports betting went live earlier this month, more than 100,000 Missourians have tried to place bets through licensed Kansas operators before being blocked by geofencing software, says fraud prevention and cybersecurity solutions company GeoComply.

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