Missouri mobile sports betting is headed for a committee vote in the state Senate, with two bills moving toward a possible hearing this month.
SB 764 was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Jan. 13, 2022. SB 643 was referred to the same committee on Jan. 10. The Senate Appropriations committee could hear the legislation as early as next week, although official hearing dates are still pending.
Online sportsbooks tethered to riverboat casinos would be allowed with state regulatory approval under both bills, with each casino eligible for up to three individually branded platforms. Retail sports betting in a riverboat casino lounge, or at kiosk-type devices at the casinos or their hotels and restaurants, would also be permitted.
Missouri law has historically tied casino gambling be to riverboat casinos – or “excursion gambling boats” – under a 1994 constitutional amendment.
Should either bill become law, the effective date for the legislation would be Aug. 28, 2022 – likely pushing a launch into late fall or early 2023.
SB 764 is sponsored by Senate Majority Caucus Whip Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville. SB 643 is sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg. Both lawmakers also sponsored sports betting legislation in 2021.
A Third Senate Proposal — With A Pro Sports Twist
Hegeman’s bill is similar to the other two bills, with one big exception – it would allow licensing of mobile sportsbooks in newly-created “designated sports districts” surrounding pro sports venues.
Sports district betting would be in addition to mobile and retail betting through licensed casinos, as proposed in the bill.
For pro sports teams, mobile licensees would be chosen by the teams, with each licensee allowed to operate through one sports betting platform pending state regulatory approval.
For riverboat casinos, up to three skins would be available, similar to other proposals this session.
All sports betting under SB 1046 would have to be processed through servers at the riverboat casinos to meet state constitutional requirements.
It’s uncertain if legal challenges could still arise, should the bill become law.
Legislation Pending In House
Bills to legalize retail and mobile sports betting have also been introduced in the Missouri House, although no hearings have been scheduled. Those bills include House Bill 2080 sponsored by Rep. Dan Shaul of Imperial, HB 2144 by Rep. Jim Murphy of St. Louis, and HB 1666 sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli of St. Peters.
Any of those bills would also take effect on Aug. 28, 2022, should they become law.
Could A Ballot Initiative Be The Way Forward?
Hegeman’s bill is considered by some to be an olive branch to four professional sports teams now pursuing a 2022 constitutional amendment to allow Missouri sports betting.
The St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Blues, and St. Louis City Soccer Club formed a coalition to push for legalization of Missouri sports betting last year, according to a Nov. 4 story in Gaming Today.
Nine proposed initiatives filed Oct. 27 on behalf of the teams are now in the signature-gathering phase.
Hegeman’s bill would give the teams what they reportedly want, which is for Missouri sports betting to be legalized during the 2022 legislative session, according to a KOMU-NBC report.
If legislative efforts fail, the deadline to file ballot initiative signatures for verification is May 8, 2022.
At least 171,592 verified signatures are required to get the initiative on the ballot this fall.