A Vote On Missouri Sports Betting Could Come Today

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Missouri Sen. Denny Hoskins’ sports betting proposal in Senate Bill 18 has been stuck in committee since Jan. 14. 

Like so many other bills filed in the Missouri General Assembly’s 2021 regular legislative session that could bring sportsbooks to the Show-Me State, SB 18 advanced a few steps then stalled. But where SB 18 falls short, Hoskins’ SB 98 — a broad gaming bill that includes sports betting — seems to be miles ahead. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday that an amended SB 98 — which could lead to legalization of sports betting tethered to riverboat casinos — may come to a floor vote in the Missouri Senate today, with final passage not far behind. 

It’s a surprise development in a legislative back-and-forth that has left many wondering, until now, if sports betting in Missouri would have to wait at least another year for a vote. 

A Path To Passage — And A Referendum

SB 98 is scheduled today for a critical vote called “perfection” — a stage in the Missouri legislative process that allows a bill to be substantially amended and printed. Once a bill is “perfected,” it can receive a third and final reading and advance to the House within a few days. 

That could set up SB 98 to look a lot different when, and if, it reaches the House. Still, it’s worth eyeing the major provisions of the bill as it moves into debate in the Senate, with three session weeks left. 

But there’s a catch. SB 98 is a referendum bill. That means that state legislative action isn’t the last word, but sets sports betting up to be implemented if MIssouri voters approve SB 98 in the next statewide election on Nov. 2022. 

If approved by the majority of Missouri voters, then SB 98 — and Missouri sports betting — will become law. That puts sports betting on track for a 2023 launch at the earliest. 

Details On SB 98

SB 98 is a gaming bill — not a sports betting bill exclusively. The legislation would also allow VLTs to operate in veterans’ and fraternal organizations and truck stops starting in 2024, and crack down on illegal gambling. 

Sports betting provisions in SB 98, like seven other bills pending this session, would tether sports betting to Missouri’s riverboat casinos. Sportsbooks would be available in betting lounges, through limited mobile gaming devices such as kiosks at the casinos’ properties (including hotels and restaurants), and through an online platform.

Here are the fine points on SB 98: 

  • $25,000 application fee for a riverboat casino to conduct sports wagering
  • $25,000 application fee for an interactive sports wagering platform to offer sports betting on a licensed casino’s behalf, with an annual renewal fee of $50,000
  • Wagering tax of 21 percent on adjusted gross receipts from sports betting by a licensed casino 
  • All sports wagers must be made on the property of a riverboat casino. 
  • Restrictions or exclusions imposed on “tier two” sports betting on non-exhibition games or events or pro sports organizations or the NCAA would be determined by the Missouri Gaming Commission. 
  • For tier one bets, riverboat casinos can use any data source to determine results, with some exceptions. 

What’s Next

Legislative action on the perfection stage of SB 98 may happen after 4 p.m. today in the state Senate. But state legislative schedules are, as a rule, subject to change. 

The one date that is firm is May 14 — the last day of the 2021 Regular Session. If SB 98 has a chance this session, it must pass muster of the Missouri General Assembly by then. 

Should SB 98 make it through this session and get the approval of voters in the fall of 2022, some estimates show that all provisions in the bill could generate around $175 million a year for Missouri at full implementation in 2027. 

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Writer and Contributor
Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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