Sports betting will have to wait a while longer for a floor vote in the Missouri Senate.
The development comes after sports betting legislation (HB 2502) placed on the Senate calendar today for a third or final reading and possible Senate passage was instead referred to the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee, or GAFO, for more review.
A hearing on the bill by that committee is scheduled for Monday afternoon. It will eventually take a vote by GAFO to move the bill back to the calendar for a Senate floor vote.
HB 2502 lead sponsor Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, said in an email to Gaming Today this afternoon that the GAFO committee “is a normal formality when a bill impacts general revenue above (a certain) threshold.
“I am hopeful (the bill) will be on the Senate floor next week,” Houx wrote.
HB 2502 passed a major hurdle when it cleared the Missouri House 115-33 on March 24. It was later recommended for Senate passage by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved the bill this week on a vote of 8-1.
Move To GAFO Committee ‘Standard Practice’
Moving a bill to GAFO is “standard practice” for bills with a fiscal impact of at least $100,000, according to a Missouri House staffer who spoke to Gaming Today on background about HB 2502 in a phone call on Thursday.
“I don’t want anybody to think this is the finished product. This is really just to keep the process moving,” Hegeman was quoted as saying by the newspaper in an article on April 19. The story said that Hegeman reportedly has concerns that the bill’s proposed eight percent tax rate on betting revenue may be too low.
The eight percent tax has been widely supported by the six professional sports teams behind a bill to legalize Missouri sports betting this year.
Another Possible Wrinkle
Another possible wrinkle is ongoing talks between Houx and Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg. The Senator is not only a fellow legislator, but shares the same hometown as Houx.
Hoskins – who nearly got sports betting through the Missouri Senate in 2021 until it was derailed by a last-minute amendment – proposed legislation this year (SB 643) to legalize sports betting. The state’s 13 riverboat casinos would be allowed up to three mobile apps each under both bills.
But Hoskins’ proposal differs from the Houx bill, too. It would tax sports betting revenue at a much higher rate of 21 percent. And it doesn’t allow professional sports teams to partner with mobile sportsbook operators. Six pro teams would be allowed to partner with one mobile operator under Houx’ bill.
HB 2502 Has Time To Pull Out A Win
Lawmakers still have some time to find common ground before, if, and when HB 2502 comes to a floor vote in the Senate. The bill is still in play until the last day of the current legislative session on May 13.
The House staffer who spoke to Gaming Today Thursday said changes to the bill can be made in committee – namely a conference committee made up of members from both houses. Senators can also file amendments to the bill when it reaches the Senate floor.
“The bill is clearly in the Senate’s court,” the staffer said, adding that the bill’s fate will probably be revealed in the next week or so. “This will probably become a little more interesting in the next seven days.”
HB 2502 will return to the House for final passage should it pass the Senate. It would be up to Gov. Mike Parson to sign the bill into law should it receive a final passage.
Missouri sports betting would most likely launch in 2023, if legalized this session.