2023 Missouri Sports Betting Bill is on Its Last Legs

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 28, 2023 12:00 AM
Don't count on Missouri sports betting to cross the finish line in 2023.

Will a last-gasp effort to legalize sports betting in Missouri be successful? Or will the state once again punt on joining so many of their neighbors who have entered the state-approved gambling business?

Just a few weeks remain in The Show-Me State's 2023 legislative sessions. To date, there has been no movement on the latest bill to legalize Missouri sports betting. Not only that, but the initiative itself appears to be on its last legs.

Pessimism started trickling out of the meetings just a few weeks ago. Democratic Senator Karla May effectively said Missouri was unlikely to legalize sports betting this year. Her sentiments, mind you, had little to do with a lack of support. Plenty of officials stand behind what's known as Senate Bill 30 (SB 30) and House Bill 556 (HB 556). But the Senate leaders apparently won't bring it to the floor for a vote unless they know, with absolute certainty, that there will be a certain number of supporters behind it.

This has created a deadlock atmosphere, in which there is little to no movement on the issue. And now, with time running out, people close to the situation are starting to doubt the 2023 Missouri sports betting bill has any chance whatsoever of making it out of the Senate.

Odds of Legal Missouri Sports Betting are on the Steep Decline

News outlets have not needed anonymous sources to unearth information about The Show-Me State's sports betting debate. Key stakeholders have come right out and painted an unflattering picture. The latest to deliver some candor was none other than the leader of the Missouri House of Representatives.

"It’s decreasing daily, it seems the sun is setting," House Speaker Dean Plocher said when asked about the prospects of a last-minute legislative push to establish a framework for legal Missouri sports betting, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think that overwhelmingly we support sports betting to a degree that it needs to be regulated. The bill we passed out of the House is a good bill.”

Minority House of Representatives leader, Crystal Quade, added to the dour mood. "It doesn’t seem like the Senate has any urgency to get it done,” she explained on April 27. “I do think there is still time, but it doesn’t seem to be such a big priority as it was at the beginning of session.”

It is only natural for members of the Missouri House to feel this way. They sent sports betting legislation up the ladder at the very beginning of the legislative sessions. It has since sputtered and stalled in the hands of the Senate.

Blame for the holdup has been directed at various parties. But Senator Denny Hoskins is at the center of it all. He has been a critical figure in sports gambling negotiations all along. Recently, he told Sports Betting Dime's Robert Linnehan that the "Senate Majority Floor Leader will only bring up a gaming bill on the floor if all 34 Senators have agreed to a deal." And while it appears that he supports the bill, he added that "33 other senators have their own legislative priorities and this [sports betting proposal] is not one of them."

Where Did It All Go Wrong for Missouri Sports Gambling?

Regardless of how you feel about Missouri sports betting, it's objectively odd that the Senate has gone radio silent in discussions. According to multiple accounts, SB 30 has not been (seriously) debated in at least three weeks. So...what gives? Too many addendums apparently.

When SB 30 first hit the Senate floor, no fewer than 12 addendums were tacked onto it within the first couple of hours. This level of activity is never a good sign. It's basically akin to opposition. Granted, some of the changes were met with widespread support—such as increasing the Missouri sports betting tax rate to 15 percent. Policymakers were also largely in favor of a "$4 fee for operators and casinos for every two hours a customer is logged onto one of their online sports betting apps."

Based on these changes, Missouri is in line to make a financial killing off business funneled through the top online sportsbooks. Many states are charging a 10 percent tax. Others are even lower. Though 15 percent isn't quite on par with the 50(ish) percent that New York assesses their operators, it can still account for millions of dollars in additional revenue each year.

However, not all of the proposed addendums to SB 30 went over so well. Hoskins once again captained a push for Video Gaming Terminals to be included on the Missouri sports betting bill. This is the same issue that derailed last year's legal gambling efforts. It's reportedly doing the same thing all over again.

On the bright side, negotiations are ongoing. And Missouri still has HB 556 to fall back upon. But many still worry about what happens to that proposal if it actually hits the Senate floor. Will a flurry of addendums ruin its momentum, as is the case with SB 30? Or will the Senate be more inclined to support it in order to capitalize on all the tax revenue they're currently squandering? The answer will be provided over the next month or so, if not sooner. But if we're to take the latest Missouri sports betting news at face value, it seems as if yet another attempt to legalize gambling is on the verge of coming up short.

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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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