Missouri Sports Betting Debate Returns to Jefferson City 

Four days before the Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Super Bowl 57, Missouri lawmakers spent suppertime Wednesday in committee talking about the latest proposal for legal sports betting in the state.   

Rep. Dan Houx spoke first. The Warrensburg Republican has tried for at least three years to legalize retail and mobile sports betting in Missouri. Other Missouri lawmakers have tried, too. Each attempt has collapsed, mostly from last-minute amendments for voter referendums or regulation of illegal video slot machines.

2023 could be different. 

“We’re missing out on taxpayer dollars here,” Houx said as the House Emerging Issues Committee discussed two identical bills that would bring legal sports betting to the state. He reminded the committee that the House (the bill died in the Senate) voted 115-33 last year in support of his proposal to legalize sports betting. 

HB 556one of the two bills discussed Wednesday – is identical to Houx’s 2022 proposal. The lawmaker said during the meeting that he expects the bill to at least pass the House this session. Missouri House Minority Whip Ashley Aune hopes he’s right.  

Aune, a Kansas City Democrat, said her constituents back home are frustrated. They see their neighbors across the border in Kansas betting legally, said Aune. They want to know why they can’t. 

“I really hope that we can get that done this year,” she said. “What better time to do it than right before the Chiefs take home another Super Bowl win.” 

Almost $1 Billion in Sports Betting Revenue Projected In First Four Years

HB 556, sponsored by Houx, and a companion bill HB 581 sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, would legalize mobile sports betting in Missouri through the state’s riverboat casinos and newly-created professional sports districts, with three apps allowed per casino and one per sports district. 

Casinos could also have retail sportsbooks.

A fiscal note on the bill says the Missouri Gaming Commission estimates total adjusted gross receipts from legal sports betting in Missouri through fiscal year 2027 would total around $950 million. Estimated net revenue to the state would be at least $70 million and $100 million over the same period, according to the note. 

The estimates per the document are based on total adjusted gross sports wagering receipts out of Indiana, which the MGC estimates has similar betting demographics to Missouri. 

What’s Next in Missouri’s Push for Sports Betting? 

Professional sports franchises in Missouri supported Houx’s proposal in 2022. They are backing his bill again this year. Representatives from the Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, and other pro franchises in Missouri took turns at the mic on Wednesday asking lawmakers to support the bill.

Kansas City Chiefs fans
Missouri lawmakers renew push for legal sports betting, as Chiefs fans look forward to another Super Bowl (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Time will tell if their words have any effect. The committee hearing Wednesday was for discussion only. But the clock is running.

The Missouri General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its current session on May 12, with a crossover deadline of March 9. That’s the date that a bill must pass from one chamber to the other (House to Senate, for example) to have a chance to make it through both chambers – and to the governor – by the end of session. 

It could happen. Speaker of the House Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, said in Sept. 2022 he plans to make the legalization of sports betting a priority this session, according to a report in Ozarks First. 

Missourians will be watching.

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer 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, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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