Missouri Sports Betting Gets Wide Support In House Committee Hearing

Written By Matthew Kredell on February 9, 2023
2023 missouri sports betting bill apps

There was little discussion but much support offered for Missouri sports betting legislation at a committee hearing Wednesday.

The House Emerging Issues Committee heard HB 556 and HB 581. The bills, respectively from Reps. Dan Houx and Phil Christofanelli, are identical.

Bill language is similar to Missouri sports betting legislation overwhelmingly passed by the House last session. For that reason, stakeholders didn’t feel the need to make much of a pitch for passage.

However, representatives of sports teams, casinos and the business community made their support known.

As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to play in another Super Bowl on Sunday, Missourians won’t be able to place legal bets on the Chiefs in their home state. That’s not the case for people in most neighboring states.

Lawmakers say it’s time to legalize Missouri sports betting

Houx said that about 580,000 people placed 1.14 million bets on the AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals. Data also show that there were 4,751 bets attempted blocked on Kansas apps from Arrowhead Stadium during the game.

“The big thing that I want to bring to the committee here, this is already happening in the state,” Houx said. “We are missing out on taxpayer dollars and residual tax payer dollars, meaning people go across state lines not only placing bets but spending money on other things, gas, dinner, that type of thing.”

Christofanelli added that people are placing bets on illegal offshore apps.

“The problem with that is there’s no regulatory oversight,” Christofanelli said. “We have no idea if they’re making sure that these people are of age to place wagers, there’s no protection for compulsive gambling on these illegal apps, and the revenue is going overseas to places in countries that may not have our best interests in mind. So I believe that revenue should be right here in Missouri and work for Missouri’s priorities.”

Rep. Ashley Aune, ranking minority member on the committee, spoke of her experience hearing about sports betting while on the campaign trail last year.

“My constituents want this. I spent a lot of time last year speaking with folks in my district and what I heard from, honestly, more people than I expected to was why haven’t we passed sports gambling yet? Why can’t we do that in Missouri? My neighbors in Kansas can do it, our neighbors in Illinois can do it. We are literally surrounded by folks who can participate in this industry and we cannot do it. It is a true point of frustration for folks.”

Missouri sports betting bill language

The language for both bills is the same agreed upon and pitched jointly by Missouri professional sports teams and casinos last year. Key details include:

  • Retail sportsbooks allowed only at Missouri’s 13 riverboat casinos.
  • Casinos get three online sportsbook skins each, with a maximum of six per casino company.
  • Professional sports teams may each offer one online sportsbook. Fans at the stadium can use any of the regulated mobile apps in the state.
  • Casinos may not advertise within 400 yards of sports stadiums without team approval.
  • Sportsbooks must use official league data on in game betting.
  • Operators pay $150,000 for an interactive sports wagering platform license, renewable for $125,000.
  • Casinos pay an initial application fee of $100,000 and annual renewal fee of $50,000 for retail licenses.
  • A tax rate of 10% on adjusted gross revenue.
  • Includes a five-year phase-out for promotional deductions. In the first year of implementation, licensees can deduct 100% of the costs of free promotional play redeemed by patrons. That decreases by 25% each year until reaching zero in year five.
  • Earmarks $500,000 of tax revenue to the Compulsive Gamblers Fund.

Sports teams and casinos offer their support

Missouri casinos and sports teams jointly developed and support this legislative proposal. Last year, they discussed their reasoning more thoroughly in committee.

This year, they mostly just offered their support. Representatives of the following sports teams spoke in support:

  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Kansas City Royals
  • St. Louis Blues
  • St Louis City SC
  • Kansas City Current (National Women’s Soccer League)

The St. Louis Surge of the Global Women’s Basketball Association also could offer sports wagering under the bill. If Missouri ever got an NBA team, it would be eligible to do online sports betting.

Mike Winter spoke in support on behalf of the Missouri Gaming Association, which represents all 13 Missouri casinos. Jeff Morris of Penn National Gaming, which owns three of those casinos, also spoke in support.

Business community comes out in support as well

Local municipalities and business organizations also support Missouri sports betting legalization. Such organizations to offer their support included:

  • City of Kansas City
  • Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Missouri Home Dock Cities Association

And from the sports betting industry, speaking in support were:

Players associations comment on Missouri sports betting bills

Representatives of the players associations for the five major professional sports leagues said that they generally supported the legalization of sports betting but had several concerns about how it would impact players.

They asked the legislature to consider:

  • Expanding protections to not just the players but their families and people affiliated with them.
  • Players should not be penalized for reporting potential wrongdoing.
  • Notifying the relevant players association if an investigation is begun on a player.
  • Prohibiting the use of biometric data in betting.
  • Giving deference to collective bargaining agreements on player safety issues and biometric data.

What’s next for Missouri sports betting bills

The House Emerging Issues Committee did not vote on the Missouri sports betting bills Wednesday. But committee passage is a foregone conclusion.

Missouri sports betting should once again find easy passage in the House. But, waiting in the Senate, Sen. Denny Hoskins has filibustered standalone sports betting efforts the past two years and told PlayUSA that he will do so again in 2023.

Hoskins wants to combine sports betting with regulating video lottery terminals in bars and truck stops around the state. That desire has led to a stalemate on Missouri sports betting that figures to continue this year.

Photo by AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann/PlayUSA
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Written by
Matthew Kredell

Matthew's reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. After graduating from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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