Missouri Pushes For Sports Betting; Three Bills In Legislative Process

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Missouri is entertaining all attempts to bring sports betting to the state. Three different senators have introduced different bills with the hope of legalizing retail and online sports betting in 2021. 

Each bill is slightly different, and this is the fourth year in a row that Missouri has attempted to legalize sports betting. This year we have seen a vast majority of states look to legalize sports betting as a way of more tax revenue. 

Missouri has been close in the past, and this just might be “the year.” State senators say that this could bring in nearly $50 million in annual revenue to the state.  

Differences Between Bills Feature Levels Of Tax Revenue 

Thankfully, none of these bills plan to involve a lottery run system like New York has been discussing. A lottery system involves just one sportsbook that is run by the state. All three of the proposed bills would support a competitive marketplace and seemingly be tax-friendly. 

There are a few differences between the bills, mostly containing different tax rates and fees for license applications. For example, Bill 256 calls for a $50,000 non-refundable application fee compared to $25,000 and $10,000 in Bill 217 and Bill 18, respectively. 

However, lawmakers see the biggest issue is the illegal market and the way they can treat their customers. Mike Winter with the Missouri Gaming Association explained that a major piece of this is the illegal sports betting market. 

“All of this is taking place in the illegal market now. We’re trying to bring it out of the illegal market, bring it into a legal regulated environment where we can be assured that bets are handled proper, consumers are treated fairly and those who have issues with gambling cannot participate,”

Whether it is avoiding ridiculous rollover requirements or other mishandling of its users, it is clearly important for Missouri to regulate the market to ensure fair play. And of course…bring in tax revenue. 

In-Person Registration A Point Of Contention 

One of the issues brought up during a recent hearing is the problem of in-person registration. John Baker, Regional Vice President for Government Relations at Caesars Entertainment was quite opinionated when discussing the situation.

Baker explained that he prefers what he called the “Iowa Model.” Iowa’s model requires sports bettors to go to a casino for the first 18 months of legalization. Baker’s explanation for this is interesting but surely turned some heads as it could drastically influence the success in the early days of Missouri’s sports betting amrket. 

Baker says, “It is an 18 month period during which the casinos that have invested in the community and have jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in properties they have developed in those communities, will have the opportunity to personally enroll customers for a period of time before you create the online registration process that never leaves you anywhere. Just download the app.”

It would appear that Baker is attempting drive in foot traffic to the casinos which have badly suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It is important to realize that none of the proposed bills have any language related to mandatory in-person registration. Caesars pushing for this type of change would surely delay the whole process. Furthermore, during today’s COVID-19 climate, it is important to make things as virtually accessible as possible. 

There could easily be a dip in bets taken if a mandatory in-person sign up are included the final bill. However, the good news is still that Missouri is poised to bring sports betting to the entire state this year one way or another. 

About the Author

Erich Richter

Erich is a New York-based freelance writer and gambling expert specializing in the sports industry. His work is featured in numerous publications. Erich is a diehard Mets, Giants, and Knicks fan (it’s been tough).

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