The Missouri House passed Missouri sports betting legislation again Wednesday. But that doesn’t really put it any closer to final passage.
The problem remains with one lawmaker in the Senate.
Identical Missouri sports betting bills HB 556 and HB 581 backed by Reps. Dan Houx and Phil Christofanelli passed 118-35. That’s three more votes than last year.
It was almost like deja-vu with the House passing Missouri sports betting legislation on March 22. Last year it passed the legislation on March 23. Maybe next year it could be March 21.
“I’m hoping that this is the year,” Christofanelli said. “I hear from people every day when I’m out and about, ‘Why hasn’t Missouri done this yet?’ And quite frankly, we’re starting to look a little silly.”
Details of House sports betting bill
The House sports betting bills passed without any changes from introduction. The language was pitched jointly by Missouri professional sports teams and casinos last year.
Here are the key details:
- Retail sportsbooks allowed only at Missouri’s 13 riverboat casinos.
- Casinos can have up to three online sportsbook skins, 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 an annual renewal fee of $50,000 for retail licenses.
- 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.
Attempts to raise tax rate defeated
There wasn’t much dissent on passing Missouri sports betting in the House.
Rep. Ashley Aune said this was the issue she heard about from constituents the most during last year’s election campaign when she went door-to-door and asked what issues were most important to people.
“It seems so simple and our constituents genuinely don’t understand why we haven’t got it to the finish line yet,” Aune said.
There were two attempts to raise the tax rate. The first proposal was to make it 21%, uniform with the casino gaming tax in the state. Then there was a middle ground of 15% proposed as well as removing the deduction for promotional credits.
Houx asked his colleagues to keep the tax rate the same but said he was open to discussing a change and wouldn’t oppose moving it to 15%.
“We’re trying to send over a bill to the Senate that we can negotiate,” Houx said. “I think we’re going to end up in a place where the gentleman will be happy. It’s something we’ve got to negotiate over there.”
One man stands in way of Senate passage
With Missouri sports betting passing by such an overwhelming margin in the House, it figures it would also pass in the Senate. If it could be brought to a vote.
Last year when the Senate tried to take up the House sports betting legislation, Sen. Denny Hoskins attempted an amendment adding the legalization and regulation of video lottery terminals (VLTs). When that was voted down, he filibustered and prevented the bill from getting a floor vote.
Before the session started, Hoskins told PlayUSA that he would again filibuster any attempt to legalize sports betting without VLTs.
A bill similar to what the House passed already has sat on the Senate floor ready for action for a month. When a Senate committee advanced SB 30 but not SB 1, Hoskins’ bill with sports wagering and VLTs, Hoskins took to the Senate floor and delayed adoption of the day’s journal for more than an hour just to show his dissatisfaction.
Finding a way to work with Hoskins is key to getting Missouri sports betting passed this year. But it’s unknown if there’s any way to appease Hoskins short of including VLTs, which the Senate made clear it won’t do.