Missouri lawmakers are deliberating a proposed bill seeking to legalize sports betting within the Show Me State.
Championed by Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg), the bill, HB 2331, will be deliberated this week, starting with a hearing on Tuesday. The Missouri House Special Committee on Public Policy will conduct the hearing.
Missouri is one of the twelve states in the United States where sports wagering is still considered illegal. It remains among the states where regulatory frameworks have not yet embraced this form of gambling.
Missouri Sports Betting Set to Contribute $7 Million to Education Funding
The Missouri sports betting bill allows the state’s 13 riverboat casinos to accept sports bets and permits mobile sportsbook operators to take bets from online bettors within the state. If passed and implemented, it could contribute substantially to education funding.
According to a recent fiscal analysis released by legislative researchers, legal sports betting has the potential to contribute approximately $7 million in fresh education funding within its inaugural year. The projected figure would increase to $35 million by 2029.
The proposed legislation would impose a 10% tax on sportsbooks’ adjusted gross receipts. Operators would be permitted to subtract promotional bets from the monthly handle, but this deduction for promotional bets would be applicable for four years.
The state is expected to attract 24 applications for sports wagering licenses. Among these applicants, eight are anticipated to be mobile sportsbook operators, three will be affiliated with professional sports districts, and the remaining 13 will be from riverboat casinos.
To apply, candidates must pay an upfront application fee of $100,000 and submit a comprehensive responsible gambling plan.
Fate of the Bill Lies in the State Capitol
Various efforts have been made to bring sports betting to Missouri. Despite sports betting gaining approval in the Missouri House in the past, the bill’s fate lies in the state Capitol, where similar proposals have encountered challenges.
However, renewed efforts are underway, with Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Buchanan) filing SB852 earlier this month. SB852 is a similar bill that looks to legalize sports betting but proposes a higher tax rate of 12% to be levied by licensed sportsbooks.
Additionally, professional sports franchises in Missouri, such as the St. Louis Cardinals, are advocating for a ballot measure to allow the decision of the legalization of sports wagering in the state to fall on voters.
While the prospects for the bill becoming law are uncertain, ongoing discussions and initiatives around legalizing sports betting continue to evolve in Missouri.
Addressing Compulsive Gambling
In a proactive move to address potential issues related to compulsive gambling, the bill includes provisions mandating operators and regulators to develop a comprehensive report on the various aspects of compulsive gambling.
The Missouri Gaming Commission and the Department of Mental Health are expected to collaborate on this research, with estimated costs of $500,000 to be incurred for an external contractor.
The initial report will be due at the end of 2025, followed by subsequent reports scheduled every three years. However, the funding source for this research remains unclear, whether it will be allocated from the Gaming Commission’s regular budget or the Compulsive Gamblers Fund.
The bill also calls for an annual contribution of an additional $500,000 to the state’s Compulsive Gamblers Fund, a significant increase from previous years.
The Department of Mental Health, which requires 25 new compulsive gambling counselors next year, anticipates costs exceeding $227,000 in the next fiscal year. These expenses are anticipated to remain consistently elevated over the subsequent three years.