Missouri Committee to Review Bill Regarding Sports Wagering

Date Published: January 22, 2024, 03:40h. 

Last updated on: January 22, 2024, 03:40h.

A new bill in Missouri is set to make its way through the state legislature, with the goal of legalizing sports betting.

A highway sign welcomes visitors to Missouri. A state legislative committee this week will begin considering legislation to legalize sports betting. (Image via creative commons.)

The Missouri House Special Committee on Public Policy is set to discuss the legislation, HB 2331, initiated by Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg).

This legislation is one of several efforts attempting to bring sports wagering to Missouri, which is currently one of only a dozen states where it remains illegal. If passed, the bill would permit Missouri’s 13 riverboat casinos to begin accepting sports bets and would allow mobile sportsbook operators to accept bets placed by Internet users in the state.

New Analysis 

Prior to the hearing, legislative researchers released a detailed fiscal analysis of the proposal. According to the analysis, legal sports betting could generate about $7 million in new education funding in its first year, with numbers expected to rise to $35 million by 2029.

The bill would tax sportsbooks’ adjusted gross receipts at a 10% rate and allow operators to deduct promotional bets from that calculation. The tax deduction for promotional bets would phase out over four years.

State officials anticipate a total of 24 applicants for sports wagering licenses, including 13 riverboat casinos, eight mobile sportsbook operators, and three license affiliates associated with professional sports districts.

Applications for sportsbook licenses require a $100,000 up-front application fee, along with the submission of a responsible gambling plan. License renewals

Compulsive Gambling Fund Increase

The bill includes several provisions requiring operators and regulators to address potential issues with compulsive gambling. The Missouri Gaming Commission and the Department of Mental Health are required to develop a report on the “neuroscience, psychology, sociology, epidemiology, and etiology of compulsive gambling.”
Regulators plan to hire an outside contractor to complete the research, with an estimated cost of $500,000. The first report is expected at the end of 2025, and additional reports will follow every three years. It’s unclear whether the research costs will come from the regular budget of the Gaming Commission or the Compulsive Gamblers Fund, as per the analysis.

The state Department of Mental Health is reportedly in need of 25 new compulsive gambling counselors next year, up from the current seven certified treatment providers. Anticipated costs to the agency would exceed $227,000 in the next fiscal year, and similar levels are expected for the subsequent three years.

The bill proposes an annual $500,000 contribution to the state Compulsive Gamblers Fund, subject to legislative appropriations. This would be a significant increase from previous years, as the Department of Mental Health is requesting about $153,000 for the fund in Fiscal 2025. As of Dec. 31, the fund held a balance of $102,884, according to the legislative analysis.

Prospects Murky

While sports betting has previously moved swiftly through the Missouri House, the bill’s chances of becoming law ultimately hinge on the other side of the state Capitol, where similar bills have stalled in recent years. Nevertheless, state senators are making yet another attempt.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Buchanan) recently filed SB852, proposing a similar approach to legalizing sports betting in the state, although it would tax sportsbooks at a higher 12% rate.

Meanwhile, Missouri’s professional sports teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals, are advocating for a ballot measure that would allow voters to determine the fate of sports wagering in the state.

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