At long last, there appears to be some measurable progress on the legalization of sports betting in Missouri. Granted, nothing is guaranteed yet. The Show-Me State has seen previous hopes—and initiatives—dashed amid optimism in the past. But entering 2023, it sure seems like legal Missouri sports betting is not only showing hints of life, but committed urgency.
This is a big deal, largely because 2023 wasn't supposed to yield any progress whatsoever. Missouri is not slated to have any legislative sessions, which functionally means the sports betting issue would be tabled until 2024.
However, Missouri governor Mike Parson recently called a special legislative session to close out 2022. Though tax-cut proposals were and remain the focus, Representative Dan Houx is pushing for the latest sports betting initiative, HB 4, to receive further consideration.
Will Houx and his supporters—which include Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas—be successful? Or is this just another instance of residents being teased by the slightest sign of optimism surrounding legal Missouri sports betting? Let's parse the latest developments to find out.
Will Legal Missouri Sports Betting Successful This Time Around?
Representative Dan Houx knows all too well how difficult it is to pass a sports betting bill. He was among those who tried extremely hard to push a 2022 initiative through the House of Representatives and Senate, only to see his efforts thwarted by a handful of disagreements.
Among the biggest roadblocks: The legal Missouri sports betting tax rate. Backers of the 2022 bill set the sportsbook tax rate at 10 percent—a relatively standard benchmark throughout the United States. But a select group of officials wanted the tax rate increased to 21 percent. The bill naturally fell apart there. More than doubling the tax rate was seen as prohibitive by those who support sports betting in Missouri the most. They weren't convinced that retail sportsbooks or existing casinos would pounce at the opportunity to fork over such a huge piece of their profits.
Other opponents of Houx's 2022 sports betting bill insisted on amending the initiative to legalize video lottery terminals. While that move would theoretically increase the state's tax revenue, it requires a different type of licensing process and monitoring procedures after the fact. Proponents of legal Missouri sports betting, meanwhile, wanted the focus to remain just there: on sports betting.
These hurdles won't suddenly disappear to close out 2022 and begin 2023. But Houx has sounded optimistic in more of his recent comments. He has also noted that a sports betting bill is currently the only piece of legislation he plans to file next year. At the very least, this suggests government officials who opposed the bill from 2022 are willing to continue negotiating around the most prevalent obstacles.
Beyond that, the state at large is also facing increased pressure from their constituents...
Kansas Legal Sports Betting Putting Pressure on Missouri
Kansas is one of Missouri's geographical neighbors and just recently rolled out legal sports gambling. And when they did, Missouri bettors rushed to place online wagers in Kansas.
To be clear: We are not talking about dozens of attempts or even hundreds of instances. But rather, thousands of Missourians closed out the month of September by trying to submit mobile betting wagers.
Most, of course, were blocked. That's how geo-tracking data works on sports betting apps. But the rush to bet on sports in Kansas underscored just how much Missourians appear to favor the legalization of online sports betting. And if local government is supposed to reflect the will of the people, then Missouri's officials are presently failing their constituents.
Whether Missouri saw this coming is unclear. It is an obvious enough issue that they probably did. But did they also see Kansas attempting to use legal sports betting to poach the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, who are among Missouri's biggest singular revenue forces? Because that's apparently the plan in Kansas. Multiple reports have cited that Kansas intends to lure the Chiefs out of Missouri once their current stadium lease is up by selling them on the financial windfall they can enjoy inside a state that actually offers legal online betting.
Anyone who understands midwestern dynamics knows this is a threat Missouri must take seriously. Football is ingrained into the state's DNA. The Chiefs themselves are a multibillion dollar franchise. Missouri cannot afford the financial—or, frankly, public relations—hit they'll suffer if the organization eventually looks to relocate.
Will Missouri Legal Sports Betting Arrive in 2023?
Unfortunately, there is not a clear answer to this question. The entire Missouri legal sports betting situation is entering uncharted territory. Few ever believed Rep. Dan Houx would have the opportunity to once again push the agenda this soon.
The key, it seems, to bringing legal sports betting to Missouri is finding common ground with those who wish to double the proposed tax rate and introduce video lottery terminals. Senator Denny Hoskins, who is considered pro-sports betting overall, remains the most prominent figure from that contingent. Hoskins and Houx are expected to meet and discuss potential concessions, workarounds and terms in the coming weeks. If that goes well, it will be a great harbinger for the future of sports betting in Missouri.
In the meantime, anyone hoping to bet on sports in Missouri should check out our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. We cover everything from the top sites to the best betting apps in 2022 to the most appealing sign-up bonuses. And best of all, many of these sportsbooks will allow almost anyone in the United States to make an account and start placing wagers—including those who reside in Missouri.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one meets all of your sports betting needs: