A vote by a Missouri House committee today puts legal sports betting closer to the finish line in the Show-Me State.
“There’s been a lot of work that’s been done in the past couple of weeks,” said Rep. Scott Cupps, chair of the House Special Committee on Public Policy that voted the legislation out today. “I think we’re ready to proceed.”
The 4-2 vote by the committee allows identical legislation in HB 2502 and HB 2556 to advance in the House. The legislation’s next stop is the House Rules Committee for Administrative Oversight. Should it make it past the Rules committee, the legislation can be called for a vote on the House floor.
Passage by the House would allow the bill to advance to the Senate, and possibly become law.
What It Means For Legal Sports Betting in Missouri
The legislation would allow Missouri’s riverboat casinos and pro sports stadiums to operate mobile sports betting, with up to three apps per casino and one app per pro sports league. Casinos would also be allowed to accept in-person sports wagers.
Sponsoring the legislation are Republican colleagues Rep. Dan Houx of Warrensburg (HB 2502) and Rep. Phil Christofanelli of St. Peters (HB 2556). Both have supported legalizing sports betting in Missouri since states were given regulatory power over sportsbooks by the US Supreme Court in 2018.
Changes To The Legislation Are Likely
The Special Committee on Public Policy made a few changes to the legislation before the final vote. One amendment doubles proposed funding for gambling addiction programs to $500,000 – although Cupps said more funding is needed.
A 2016 survey cited by Cupps indicates that 2.2 percent of Missouri’s adult population has a gambling problem. That’s about the same percentage of the state’s population involved in farming, said Cupps, himself a farmer.
“Think of how many farmers you know,” said the Shell Knob Republican. “We’re getting ready to potentially open up wagering on electronic devices from anywhere in the state for the first time. If and when this proposal becomes law, we need to be aware of that and, as a state, be ready to address the issues that arise from that.”
Tax and licensing proposed in the legislation may also need fine tuning, said Cupps, although he gave no concrete suggestions. The legislation as written now would tax adjusted gross receipts from sports betting at 10 percent. Licensing of casino sportsbooks would be $100,000 initially, with sports betting platforms charged an initial fee of $150,000 and $125,000 for renewal.
Lawmakers Need To Act Quickly
Other changes to the legislation proposed by the committee would allow operators to deduct from taxable revenue free bets and bonuses offered to new customers (a provision that would be phased out over five years) and prohibit betting on high school athletics.
But the Missouri House will have to act quickly to get the legislation in any form to the Senate. The last day of the 2022 regular session of the Missouri General Assembly is May 13.