Missouri State Sen. Denny Hoskins hit a roadblock on his drive to bring sports betting apps to the Show-Me State in 2021. So he’s trying again in 2022.
The Warrensburg Republican and Senate Economic Development Committee co-chair told Missourinet that he plans to pre-file a Missouri sportsbook bill this December for consideration in 2022. Regulation of now-rogue slot and video poker machines and legalization of esports would be part of the proposed package, he said.
Hoskins announced his plans on Missourinet after returning from a bipartisan National Council of Legislators from Gaming States meeting in Chicago in July.
“Missouri’s done a lot in the gaming industry; however, we are still behind many of our surrounding states,” he said. “I would definitely like to get sportsbook passed. I would like to have some VLTs (video lottery terminals) regulated in the state of Missouri, as well as some of these emerging types of gaming such as esports. Hopefully we can get something passed this next legislative session.”
A last-minute referendum amendment during the Missouri General Assembly’s 2021 regular session thwarted Hoskins’ attempt to legalize sports betting and tax some 20,000 now-unregulated video lottery games this year.
Any chance to get a bill through this year was lost when the recent session adjourned on May 14.
Hoskins: Missouri Needs To Keep Gambling Revenue In-State
Right now, Missourians regularly drive across the border into Iowa or Illinois to bet legally on sports. Hoskins said that’s money going out-of-state that could be used for education and other programs at home.
He said legalizing sportsbooks and unregulated VLTs in Missouri could mean an extra $270 million in state revenue for education and veterans’ programs.
“(Just how much) depends on how many VLTs were allowed in the state, and the tax rate for sportsbook as well as VLTs,” said Hoskins. “I’ve seen estimates and projections that would be $200 million-$250 million in increased new revenue going toward education from video lottery terminals in the state, and around $20 million if sportsbook were to be legalized.”
And, although regulated VLTs mean more money, Hoskins said legal sports betting has its advantages. Missouri is home to a large sports fan base through its professional league and college teams.
“I have a lot of friends that definitely want to see sportsbook passed in this state of Missouri, and hopefully we can get that done this next session,” he said.
Esports: Part Of Any Missouri Sportsbook Bill
Adding esports to his next sportsbook proposal is a given, said Hoskins. It’s his answer to the colossal growth in video game tournaments at the college level and beyond.
Competition is both national and worldwide, with some states building esports stadiums for tournament play.
“A lot of colleges have esports teams, and these are players that are receiving scholarships to go to college and competing … in the United States and across the world for esports titles,” he said.
Another betting option in Missouri is pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, which has been on the back burner since voters authorized it by constitutional amendment in 1984. Attempts to launch pari-mutuel horse betting in the state have been stymied since a year-round simulcasting bill stalled in 2002.
While Hoskins supports pari-mutuel horse racing, he thinks esports betting has more momentum right now.
“I would love to see horse racing in the state of Missouri …,” he said, later adding, “I could see other things like esports coming to the state before horse racing does.”
What’s Next For Missouri Sports Betting?
Legal Missouri sports betting received a nod from state regulators at Wednesday’s meeting of Hoskins’ Senate Economic Development Committee. The Missouri Lottery says it wants to regulate sports betting in the state, should it be legalized.
That’s according to a story in yesterday’s The Center Square, which quoted Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Reardon as saying the lottery “should administer any ‘new products’ authorized by lawmakers, noting 70% of global online sports wagering is conducted by lotteries.”
Legal gambling available in Missouri today includes the state lottery, charitable gaming, riverboat casino gambling, and fantasy sports (legalized in 2016). The state’s 13 commercial casinos provide about $1 billion in state tax revenue annually.