An amended proposal to legalize sports betting in Missouri unanimously passed the House Committee on Emerging issues Thursday morning.
“There is urgency to get sports betting legalized this session,” Representative Phil Christofanelli told KCRG. “We need to provide a legal and regulated framework for sports wagering that will help bring in millions in additional revenue to help fund our state’s priorities. We are currently losing this revenue to neighboring states who have already taken action to provide a legal avenue for sports betting.”
Rep. Dan Houx and Rep. Phil Christofanelli presented identical sports betting bills to the committee Wednesday. The Representatives gave brief testimony for bills HB 556 and HB 581, which propose legalizing retail and online sports betting in Missouri for casinos and professional sports franchises.
Proposed Bills Build on Prior Sessions
Thursday’s amendments to HB 556 and HB 581 were described as minor language changes to the proposed bills that “addressed players concerns.” These amendments passed without further debate or discussion.
HB 556 and 581 were first introduced during the Missouri legislative opening session. HB 556 is similar to a 2022 mobile sports betting bill Houx proposed, HB 2502, which came close to passing.
HB 556 is identical to the previous HB 2502, except it would raise tax revenue from 8 to 10% and prohibit prop bets on individual performances by college athletes. The 10% tax rate would put Missouri in line with neighboring Kansas.
Rep. Houx told Gaming Today in January that legalized sports gambling is a key issue with his constituents, and he is “very optimistic it will get done this year.”
Missouri Professional Sports Teams Support Gambling
Representatives from the Chiefs, Royals, KC Current, St. Louis Blues, St. Louis City SC, and St. Louis Cardinals showed support for the proposed bills at Wednesday’s public hearing. KCTV noted that Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III spoke in support of the bills, saying that:
“We’ve learned how to tweak this to make this more reflective of the market that’s out there, and I believe that the tweaks to this bill do that. So we’re very supportive.”
Dewitt said that Missouri is learning from other states who already have these measures in place. With almost $1 billion in potential sports betting revenue over the first four years up for grabs, it’s not a lesson legislators can afford to miss.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)