A sports betting vote in the Missouri Senate was stymied Wednesday after senators rejected an amendment to allow the legalization of now-rogue video slot machines at truck stops, fraternal halls, and veterans organizations.
Sens. Denny Hoskins, Bill Eigel, and Nick Schorer worked in tandem to advance the video slots amendment to legislation in Senate Bill 30 as part of a two-hour filibuster move to force a compromise on the Missouri sports betting bill. Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, has refused to support sports betting legalization in past sessions without legalization of the video slots, called “gray games” because they operate in a gray area of the law outside of state regulation.
The amendment would have allowed up to three of the machines per truck stop, fraternal organization, and veterans organization, reducing the number of untaxed machines across the state. There are at least 20,000 or more video slots at truck stops and other locations statewide, according to some estimates.
Senate Majority Caucus Chair and SB 30 sponsor Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, pulled SB 30 from consideration Wednesday when Hoskins followed the defeat of the video slots amendment with another proposed change.
Minutes later, all floor action stopped when the Senate abruptly adjourned.
Debate on Missouri Sports Betting Bill Included Responsible Gaming
Eigel supported Hoskins’ attempt Wednesday by holding the floor with a reading of the 1991 book President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime until the video slots amendment, sponsored by Schorer, was called to a vote. The amendment largely mirrored video slots regulation language in Hoskins’ Senate Bill 1, which would have also legalized mobile sports betting.
SB 1 died in committee on Feb. 23.
After Schorer’s amendment failed, Hoskins called a subsequent amendment that would have increased funding for responsible gambling tenfold from what had been proposed in the bill.
Hoskins’ amendment would have increased the appropriation to at least $10 million annually. That’s nearly all of the state’s first-year projected annual revenue from sports betting based on a proposed tax rate of 15 percent, per a March 21 official fiscal estimate.
Luetkemeyer’s proposal would appropriate at least $1 million annually to Missouri’s Compulsive Gambling Fund.
Several amendments to SB 30 were adopted, however, before debate was cut off. Hiked admission fees on casinos were among provisions in the amendments that passed.
Missouri Still Has Time This Month to Pass Sports Betting Legislation
SB 30 can still be called for a vote in the Senate before the current legislative session ends in May. The Senate also might decide to debate a nearly identical sports betting proposal, HB 556, which passed the House 118-35 on March 22.
HB 556 is sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg. Like SB 30, HB 556 would legalize online and retail sports betting in Missouri. Both bills would allow each of the state’s riverboat casinos up to three sportsbook apps, with a limit of six per casino company. The Show-Me State’s six professional sports teams would be allowed one sportsbook app each.
Retail sportsbooks would be allowed only at casinos under both bills.
Specific provisions to combat problem gambling in both proposals include:
– Self-exclusion from sports wagering by state regulation
– Forfeiture of winnings from sports bets placed by anyone on the self-exclusion list
– Requirement for the state to establish treatment and recovery programs for compulsive gambling
– Funds earmarked for the state’s Compulsive Gamblers Fund. HB 556 would require at least $500,000 to be appropriated to the fund while SB 30, as amended in committee, would require at least a $1 million appropriation to the fund.
The primary difference between the two measures is the proposed tax rate on sports wagers. SB 30 was amended in committee with a tax rate of 12 percent on adjusted gross revenue from sports bets – including parlays and in-play wagers – but the Senate increased that rate to 15 percent Wednesday. The tax rate in HB 556 is 10 percent.
A fiscal note on HB 556 estimates that legal sports betting in Missouri would generate approximately $950 million in adjusted gross revenue through 2027. That could mean $11 million to $15 million in the first year of operation and at least $40 million a year in 2027 at the 15 percent rate.