This week, progress was made on a Missouri sports betting legislation in the House of Representatives, yet its success in the General Assembly’s upper chamber is uncertain. The bipartisan bill, HB 556, was introduced in January by state representative Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg), and with three Republican and two Democratic co-sponsors it received strong majority support in the House with a 118-35 vote. It is now being sent to the Senate, where it awaits a committee assignment.
Since the US Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on single-game wagering in May 2018, Missouri General Assembly lawmakers have been working on a sports betting bill. State Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) is the biggest obstacle, as he has previously filibustered the legislation due to the lack of liberalization of skill gaming machines. Although he has indicated he may not take the same obstructive approach this year, he has yet to confirm his intentions.
Houx argues that the state should permit sports betting to capture revenue that would otherwise flow into other jurisdictions where sports gambling is allowed. Missouri borders legal sports betting states Nebraska and Arkansas, and during the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl win, GeoComply, a business-to-business iGaming firm, reported blocking over a quarter of a million access attempts from people located in Missouri.
If HB556 is passed, 13 riverboat casinos in the state would be able to offer in-person and online sports betting. They would pay a one-time $100,000 licensing fee for the right to operate a retail sportsbook, and each casino would be allowed to attach up to three online sportsbook platforms. Interactive sportsbooks would pay a $150,000 initial licensing fee and renew the permit annually for $125,000. The bill also states that revenue from sports betting must be taxed at 10%, with a minimum of $500,000 of the associated tax receipts going towards the Compulsive Gamblers Fund.
Public opinion on sports betting in Missouri is mixed, as indicated by a poll conducted by Saint Louis University and YouGov, which found that only 35% of Missourians believe the state should allow sports betting. Despite this, the bill has gained support in the legislature, and now it awaits the decision of the Senate.