Missouri Committee to Consider Sports Wagering Bill

Posted on: January 22, 2024, 03:40h. 

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

A proposed bill to legalize sports wagering in Missouri will begin winding its way through the state legislature this week.

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 on Tuesday will convene a hearing on the legislation, HB 2331, sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg).

The legislation is one of several ongoing efforts to bring sports wagering to Missouri, one of just a dozen states where it remains illegal. The bill would allow the Show Me State’s 13 riverboat casinos to begin accepting sports bets and allow mobile sportsbook operators to begin accepting bets placed by Internet users in the state.

New Analysis 

Ahead of the hearing, legislative researchers on Monday released a detailed fiscal analysis of the proposal. If passed and fully implemented, legal sports betting would generate about $7 million in new education funding in its first year, rising to $35 million by 2029, according to the analysis.

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

State officials expect a total of 24 applicants for sports wagering licenses, including 13 riverboat casinos, eight mobile sportsbook operators and three licensees affiliated with professional sports districts.

Applications for sportsbook licenses come with a $100,000 up-front application fee and require operators to submit a responsible gambling plan. Licence renewals

Compulsive Gambling Fund Increase

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

The state Department of Mental Health says it would need 25 new compulsive gambling counselors next year, up from seven currently certified treatment providers. Costs to the agency would exceed $227,000 in the next fiscal year and remain similarly high for the following three years.

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

Prospects Murky

While sports betting has previously sailed through the Missouri House and may do so again this year, the chances of the bill ultimately becoming law rest on the other side of the state Capitol, where similar bills have stalled in recent years. Still, state senators are trying again.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Buchanan) earlier this month filed SB852, which would take 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 pushing for a ballot measure that would let voters decide the fate of sports wagering in the state.

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