Missouri Sports Betting Set To Move Forward After Bill Approved
David Caraviello | 4 mins
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A renewed push to permit legal sports betting in Missouri gained further traction Thursday with the advancement of a bill setting forth a regulatory framework that includes one of the nation’s lower state tax rates on revenues.
On Wednesday, members of the Missouri House of Representatives amended HB 2502 by decreasing the proposed state tax rate from the original 10% to 8%, according to documents available on the general assembly’s website. On Thursday, the bill passed the House with a vote of 115-33. It will now be sent to the Senate. Both the House and Senate in Missouri must pass the same version of the bill before it can become law. If both chambers approve, the legislation will then be sent to Republican Gov. Mike Parson for his consideration.
Introduced by Rep. Dan Houx, a Republican who represents a largely rural district southeast of Kansas City, the bill would allow sports betting through online platforms like betting apps or on gambling boats, with a proposed launch date of Aug. 28—just in time for NFL betting on the 2022 season.
The effort to bring sports betting to Missouri, which already allows casino gaming in riverboat-style facilities, has been backed by the state’s professional sports teams and existing casino operators, according to the Kansas City Star. Missouri is also seeing increased competition from neighboring states like Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas and Tennessee that all have varying degrees of legal sports betting in place.
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Retail restricted to riverboats
The Missouri bill introduced by Houx would empower the state’s gaming commission to issue mobile licenses for a $100,000 initial fee, and a $50,000 renewal every two years. Retail sports betting would be restricted to the state’s gambling boats, which could each partner with up to three individually-branded interactive sports wagering platforms that would pay a $50,000 initial application fee and $50,000 renewal every two years.
The state’s tax rate on gross gaming revenues, which was 10% percent in the original bill but reduced to 8% Wednesday via amendment, would rival that of Iowa and Nevada (6.75%) and Michigan (8.4%) as the lowest in the country. Most states that allow sports betting have tax rates of 10 to 15%, although those rates range as high as 36% in Pennsylvania and 51% for sports betting in New York.
The bill was also amended Wednesday to mandate annual studies on the effects of gambling in the state, to have the number for a gambling helpline inserted into all promotional materials, and to provide annual training for staff in identifying compulsive or problem gamblers.
‘Millions left on the table’
Although Missouri has had legal riverboat casinos since 1992, the state has been slow to adopt legal sports betting. That’s led to an exodus of residents on NFL Sundays to neighboring states where the practice is legal, a trend most evident in the St. Louis area where legal sports wagering in Illinois is a short drive across the Mississippi River.
That loss of potential tax dollars evidently got the attention of Missouri state legislators, who last year began a serious push to legalize sports betting in the Show-Me State. “This bill is more than a sportsbook, it’s a revenue generator,” Houx told the Columbia Missourian.
Legalizing sports betting would create an estimated $40 to $50 million in additional annual tax revenue, according to KTVI-TV of St. Louis. “There are millions of dollars in tax revenue being left on the table,” Jeff Morris, government relations director of casino operator Penn National, told the station.
“This illegal market pays no taxes, pays no fees. There are no protections for the customers. People are already doing this with bookies in the back alleys. This is an opportunity for Missouri to capture that lost revenue.”
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