Missouri Lawmakers Ready for Legalized Sports Betting This Year
With the start of the Missouri House legislative session this week, legalized sports betting is again at the top of the agenda. Since the U.S. Supreme court struck down the federal ban on gambling in 2018, lawmakers have considered sports betting on four previous occasions with no bill making it past the committee stage.
During this session, several Republican lawmakers have pre-filed or plan to introduce gambling and sports betting legislation. For example, Representative Jim Murphy has pre-filed legislation in favor of legalizing sports betting and online casinos, and Internet poker. Based on past experiences in the state, these are likely to be more difficult to achieve.
In a statement to PlayMissouri, Murphy said, “We’re going to put them all together and fight for what we can get. Sometimes it’s baby steps, and sometimes you get big leaps. We’re going to fight for both, and I think both of these are doable.”
State Looks to Expand beyond Riverboat Gambling with Legalized Sports Betting
Missouri has had legalized gambling since 1994 when the Missouri Riverboat Gambling Amendment was passed. Laws that permit riverboat gambling can be vague, as casinos can be found in other bodies of water beside the many rivers in the state. Missouri currently has eleven riverboat casinos that pulled in $151.8 million in revenue last November.
Last fiscal year, neighboring Illinois, which has legal sports betting, collected $57 million in tax revenue. Representative Dan Shaul believes that Missouri could bring in over $40 million per year in sports betting tax revenue. He thinks it should be used to benefit veterans, stating, “They’ve committed so much to us, and we need to commit to them as well.”
The bill proposed by Shaul also looks to create a Player Benevolence Fund in which 1% of the tax revenue would be distributed among the five professional sports leagues, which would benefit current or former players and their charitable foundations.
Several Bills Expected to Be Introduced in 2022
Representative Phil Christofanelli is one of the lawmakers with pre-filed legislation to expand gambling in the state. He’s proposing a 6.75% tax on the gross sports betting revenue statewide.
In addition, providers would pay a $50,000 licensing fee and $40,000 in annual fees to cover Missouri Gaming Commission regulatory costs. The tax rate and fees are some of the lowest in the country.
Unlike some other states, Missouri lawmakers must get voter approval to legalize sports betting. After both chambers of the state assembly sign legislation for a sports gambling statute, a referendum is then placed on the ballot, which a simple majority must approve.
Unfortunately, voters can only cast ballots on constitutional referendums in even-numbered years, meaning if legislation is not passed in the 2022 legislative session, voters will have to wait until 2024 before their next chance to vote on the proposal. You can follow along with all legislation related to sports betting in your state here.
When lawmakers pass the legislation to bring legalized sports betting to Missouri, here is where you can find our guide to sports betting!