The six biggest professional sports teams in Missouri have joined forces with local casinos in a push to bring legal, regulated sports betting to the Show Me State. In early April, representatives of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, NHL’s St. Louis Blues, MLS’ St. Louis SC, NWSL’s Kansas City Current, and MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals publicly voiced their support for legislation that would pave the way for both land-based and mobile-only sports betting.
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Missouri Demonstrates Patient Approach to Sports Betting
The Missouri legislature has taken a go-slow approach since the United States Supreme Court paved the way for legal online sports betting in the USA by striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, which prohibited sports gambling in almost all 50 US states.
Sports betting in Missouri has been traditionally turned to offshore-based online sportsbooks to lay their wagers, including many that qualified to be included among our reviews of top online sportsbooks. In addition, the legislature’s slow movement on the issue has left the state lagging behind neighboring states like Illinois, Iowa, and Tennessee. The three states have opened their doors to legal retail and sportsbooks, which have become increasingly popular with Missourians.
Accordingly, they have become popular destinations for Missouri residents who might otherwise place their bets closer to home, thereby denying the state government of a potentially lucrative source of tax revenue.
"Missourians are doing it right now, and we are not getting the benefit from the tax standpoint," said House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-O'Fallon during a recent debate on the issue in the state legislature.
Legislation Set to Change Sports Betting Landscape
The march toward legal sports betting in Missouri has picked up pace with the introduction of House Bills 2502 in the Missouri legislature. If made law, HB 2502 will clear the way for legal sports betting inside the state’s 13 casinos, as well as on mobile apps. Introduced by State Representative Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, HB 2502 cleared an important hurdle when it was approved in the Missouri House of Representatives on March 23 by a vote of 115-35.
The bill still needs the approval of the State Senate, and it was at a recent Senate Appropriations Committee hearing where Missouri pro sports teams were pushing for legal sports betting in 2022. As currently written, the bill would permit wagering on both professional and college sports and would award six of the proposed 39 skins set to be created by the legislation those teams.
While the benefits to Missouri’s pro sports teams are obvious, Missouri lawmakers have also taken steps to protect state residents that may struggle with compulsive gambling. Prior to passing the House, an amendment was made to HB 2502 to include a voluntary self-exclusion program, as well as require the state to offer recovery services to those struggling with a gambling problem, as well as continued research on the effectiveness of such programs.
Tax Rate at Heart of Ongoing Debate
The leading issue driving debate on HB 2502 in the Missouri statehouse focuses on how sports betting revenue would be taxed. The legislation originally featured provisions for a 10% tax rate on sports betting revenues, which was dropped to 8% prior to passing the House.
That has raised concerns among some lawmakers, who believe the rate is too low, and would further deny the state of much needed tax revenue. However, proponents of the bill have argued that the 8% rate provides an added incentive for Missouri residents to place their bets with state-sanctioned sportsbooks rather than look to neighboring jurisdictions like Kansas, whose produced legislation features a 21% tax rate.
Competition Adds to Pressure on Missouri Lawmakers
While quick passage of HB 2502 could clear the way for legal sportsbooks to open their doors in Missouri before the end of 2022, it remains far from a done deal. The debates over taxation, number of skins, and how to protect sports bettors could still sideline the latest effort to bring legal sports gambling to the Ozark State.
However, with legal sports betting now available in over 30 US states, and with legislature also under consideration in nearby Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Nebraska, it is increasingly looking like a matter of when, not if, fans of the Blues, Chiefs, and Royals whill be able to get in on the betting action.