Missouri Sports Betting Hopes Are Still Alive

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Seven sports betting bills are waiting for a vote in the Missouri General Assembly. None of the bills has seen action since at least March 2. And none is even close to becoming law.

With only three weeks left in Missouri’s 2021 Regular Session, bettors are asking themselves if state lawmakers in Jefferson City plan to “Show Me” that sports betting has enough traction to become state law this year — or at least in time for the 2022 Super Bowl.

The short answer is, it’s possible. State legislatures that want to move a bill quickly can usually get the job done as long as they ensure that the bill gets three “readings” (or read, at least by title only) in each house. The third reading happens right before the bill comes to a vote on the chamber floor. If it passes that test, the entire process starts over in the other house.

All seven Missouri sports betting bills pending this session have had at least two readings in the house where they originated, meaning the House or Senate. So, procedurally, they are all on about the same footing.

Tethered, with Online Sports Betting Options

The big similarity among Missouri’s sports betting bills is that each one would tether in-person and online and/or mobile sports betting to Missouri’s riverboat casinos. Most, if not all, of the proposals would allow the boats to contract with up to three interactive sports betting platforms.

So, the proposals are all headed in the same direction, with some variation.

The bill that can ultimately pass is the one with the most momentum politically. The question is, which one can meet that test?

SB 256 May Be The Winner

Missouri casinos seem to favor Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden’s sports betting proposal in Senate Bill 256.

The casinos testified in support of Rowden’s bill on Feb. 2 in the Senate Appropriations Committee through the Missouri Gaming Association. Mike Winter, the association’s executive director, told lawmakers that SB 256 would create the best state framework for legal sports wagering.

Another thing that SB 256 has going for it is its sponsor. Rowden is a high-ranking member of Senate Leadership, which basically controls the flow of legislation in that chamber. That gives SB 256 a real advantage.

Senate Bill 217 — another Missouri sports betting proposal pending this session — did not get the same endorsement from Winter, who cited concerns with provisions involving sports leagues. That bill is sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer.

Details On SB 256

Here’s a rundown of what we know about SB 256 going into the remaining weeks of the 2021 Regular Session:

  • Sports wagering would be permitted on licensed and certified excursion gambling boats (the “licensed facility”) and through interactive sports betting platforms working with a licensed facility.
  • Licensed facilities certified to engage in sports wagering could use up to three individually branded interactive sports betting platforms to handle bets for the facility.
  • Application fee of $50,000 for licensed facilities to be certified to conduct sports betting in-person or through an online platform.
  • Interactive sports betting platforms working through a licensed and certified facility would pay an application fee of $50,000, with an annual renewal fee of $20,000.
  • Platforms could operate online and by mobile devices.
  • Tax rate of 6.75 percent on adjusted gross receipts from sports betting.
  • Bets would have to be placed by persons physically located in Missouri.
  • The minimum age to place a sports wager would be 21.

Details could change, and probably will, if the bill comes to a vote before the 2021 Regular Session comes to an end or before May 14. But SB 256 seems to be the one to watch, at least for now.

Other Bills To Watch

Other Missouri sports betting bills to follow in the weeks ahead — in addition to SB 256 and SB 217 — are:

  • Senate Bill 18 (Sen. Denny Hoskins). Last Action: 1-14-21
  • House Bill 619 (Rep. Wes Rogers). Last Action: 1-7-21
  • House Bill 730 (Rep. Phil Christofanelli). Last Action: 1-7-21
  • House Bill 1024 (Rep. Cody Smith). Last Action: 2-3-21
  • House Bill 1364 (Rep. Dan Houx). Last Action: 3-2-21
About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

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

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