New 2023 Missouri Sports Betting Bill Generating Some Optimism

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jan 26, 2023 12:00 AM
Will the 2023 Missouri sports betting bill bringing legal wagering to the Show-Me State?

Could 2023 be the year a Missouri sports betting bill finally breaks through?

Many are thinking it might just be.

With the Show-Me State's 2023 legislative meetings now underway, members of the House and Senate have started the process of haggling over the future of sports betting in Missouri. It is a process everyone involved is intimately familiar with. Missouri has discussed the prospect of legal sports betting for a few years running but their proposed bills have ultimately fallen short each time. Last year's proposal appeared to gain some real traction, which was encouraging. It still fell apart near the end, failing to ever garner anything resembling majority.

Plenty of stakeholders are hopeful 2023 will be different. Indeed, as we closed out the 2022 calendar, more lawmakers seemed to favor Missouri sports betting than not. Generating that kind of support would clear one major hurdle facing the road to legal gambling.

But other obstacles also remain.

Latest Missouri Sports Betting Bill Has Officially Been Introduced

Earlier this past month, the Missouri House of Representatives gave a first reading to Rep. Dan Houx’s sports betting bill, titled HB 556. However, according to Legal Sports Report, "it is unlikely to move through any committees until later this month," and at least a handful of members are worried that the "bill is essentially the same legislation Houx pushed through the chamber last year before it stalled in the Senate." This, in theory, would leave HB 556 susceptible to the same issues that derailed its predecessor.

While these concerns are not unfounded, Rep. Houx isn't worried about the overwhelming similarities. In fact, he has seemed downright optimistic. And he may have a reason to be. The House of Representatives is inundated with topics to discuss, which left some wondering whether the issue of Missouri sports betting could be tabled. 

On the contrary, though, it appears to be on the fast track toward discussion. House committees are set to start hearing all bills by the end of this month and at the beginning of February, and HB 556 is among the first pieces of legislation on their docket. Not only that, but Rep. Houx effectively guaranteed the bill already had the support necessary to reach the Senate.

“We have a couple of House priorities, two or three, but I’m not concerned about getting it out of the House,” he recently told reporters of the 2023 Missouri sports betting bill. “I think a lot of it relies on SB 1. I expect that to be on the floor by the end of January or first week of February. That will be the telltale sign of the VLT issue.” 

The "VLT issue" he mentions is a nod to the Video Lottery Terminal debate that cratered the 2022 Missouri sports betting bill. Houx and others insisted on including Video Lottery Terminals in the legalization of sports betting. Other stakeholders involved staunchly opposed this last 11th-hour amendment, and the bill was stamped out quickly on the Senate floor.

Are There Any Notable Changes to the 2023 Missouri Sports Betting Bill?

Naturally, with the issue of Video Lottery Terminals still under scrutiny, we have to ask: If the new Missouri sports betting bill is so similar to the previous one, why should we expect the outcome to be any different?

Rep. Houx, specifically, believes that officials on the other side of the fence have warmed up to the idea. This is in part because he added in stipulations that would call for stricter rules on where Video Lottery Terminals are placed and how they're monitored thereafter.

The bigger change, however, has come on the Missouri sports betting revenue front. Last year's bill called for an 8 percent tax on all sports betting profits. HB 556, on the other hand, has increased that to 10 percent.

That 2 percent increase may not seem like much of a difference. In reality, though, it's fairly massive. Jumping from an 8 percent tax rate to a 10 percent bracket represents a 25 percent increase overall on the original. Also: Getting an extra 2 percent can mean a whole lot when you're talking about nine figures' worth of sports betting revenue.

Will Missouri Legalize Sports Betting in 2023?

Unfortunately, it's too soon to answer this question. As Rep. Houx noted, the speed and ease with which HB 556 makes it through the House of Representatives and on to the Senate floor will say a lot. And even then, you have to wait and see whether it falls apart like last year.

Still, this seems to be the most likely Missouri has ever been to legalize sports betting. Not only have opposing parties appeared more open to negotiating and compromising, but the legalization of sports betting in Kansas this past year put pressure on the Show-Me state to do the same. Officials have noted that in addition to Missouri residents signing up with many highly reviewed online sportsbooks, people are now flocking across state lines to place wagers with their neighbors.

On top of that, even legal sports betting opponents have gestured toward the increased tax rate as a point of pride. The Kansas economy is effectively a rival, and they assess a 2.9 percent tax rate on sports betting revenue. Missouri's 10 percent figure more than triples that. 

So while we can't know for sure what the future of sports betting in Missouri holds, we do know that the House and Senate seem to be taking the issue extremely seriously this time around.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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