When it comes to legalizing sports betting in states that have yet to make the jump, we should know by now that anything can happen. Missouri is the latest example of how quickly the winds of fortune can change. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that they would legalize sports betting in 2022. But now that the bill named HB2502, there are suddenly a few roadblocks that could derail the whole campaign.
For so long, it has seemed like legal sports betting in Missouri was a matter of when not if. The logic appeared to support it in so many ways. Not only is sports betting legal in the USA for more than half the states, Missouri's own sports betting bill, HB2502, flew through the House of Representatives without much resistance. The next step was supposed to be a formality. And yet, the Missouri sports betting bill now faces complications in the Senate.
These aren't minor complications at play, either. The entire trajectory of sports betting in Missouri hinges on the current issues being bandied about in the Senate.
Naturally, we're all currently wondering the same thing: What happens next?
Why Missouri's Sports Betting Bill Has Hit a Snag
Zoom out on the situation in the Show-Me State, and the stage appeared set for a swift legalization of sports betting. Many actually believed Missouri would have legal sports betting in some form ready to rock before the end of 2022. That's how rampant the optimism was back in February when HB2502 blitzed through the House of Representatives with almost consensus approval.
That perception flip-flopped shortly after the bill hit the Senate. Many of the members have been turned off by the 10 percent tax rate that the state is proposing to assess licensed sportsbooks. While that is right in line with what some other regions have done, Missouri has preexisting legislation that states any gambling tax be set at 21 percent. The 10 percent rate being given to sportsbooks isn't even half of that.
Proponents of the unique tax rate argue that sports betting will take place on a different and larger scale. Experts have predicted that Missouri stands to take in tens of millions of dollars in extra tax revenue from sportsbook operators, which should then warrant a specialized or reduced tax rate. To date, though, that argument hasn't gained much traction. As Senator Denny Hoskins recently said in a comment (via Sportsbetting. legal):
“The current tax rate on gambling in Missouri is 21 percent, was approved by voters at 21 percent, and provides a significant amount of funding for our public schools. I don’t see why sports wagering should be treated differently.”
Missouri is Trying to Amend Bill HB2505 Address Concerns
In response to senators who aren't happy with the reduced gambling tax rate for sports gambling operators, there has been a push to amend the bill to include legalized video lottery terminals.
These gaming kiosks are essentially slot-style machines usually housed in places like truck stops, gas stations, bars, etc. Typically, they fall into a fuzzy legal area. Some states have incorporated them into their sports betting bills. Other have not. A select few have legalized video lottery terminals without legalizing other forms of gambling.
A few members of the Senate have since proposed Missouri add them to the current sports betting bill. They argue that many establish continue to offer these games under the table illegally and that legalizing them would generate more than enough extra revenue to offset the difference in sportsbook tax rates.
Skeptics of HB2505 have seemed slightly more open to discussing this resolution. They at least agreed to give the video lottery terminals official authorization under HB2502. But will that be enough?
Isn't Sports Betting Already Legal in Missouri?
Further muddying the conversation around legal sports betting in Missouri is the fact that some already believe the state has green-lit gambling on sports. And to be sure, that is not the case.
But Missouri has, however, legalized daily fantasy sports. So, you can understand the confusion.
It's important to note the distinction between the two. That's why we strongly recommended checking out reviews of the top online sportsbooks. They will help you understand the difference between daily fantasy sports betting and wagering on real-life competitions.
For tax purposes, though, many members of the senate believe there is no distinction between sports betting and other forms of gambling. The prevailing sentiment so far is that if casino games have a 21 percent tax and daily fantasy sports have a 21 percent tax, why should betting on sports be any different?
Future of Missouri Sports Betting Up in the Air
Many might assume the Senate will simply come to some compromise in the 11th hour before legalizing sports betting throughout the state. And ideally, yes, that's exactly what would happen. But it may not.
Splitting the difference and offering, say, a 15 percent tax to sportsbooks operators may fly in theory. But you have to consider the other side of the arguments. Some sportsbooks will not want to foot a 15 percent tax rate after already being offered 10 percent. That, in turn, could impact the number of sportsbook operators who apply for licenses, which then adversely affects Missouri's revenue stream.
Here's the good news: In the end, we still think Missouri will legalize sports betting. The revenue projections are too massive for them to let this matter sit on the back burner for another year while residents continue placing bets in surrounding states or with off-shore sportsbooks. Still, don't be surprised if this decision comes down to the wire. Don't even be surprised if Missouri ends up tabling the legal sports betting bill altogether. Remember: On matters of legal sports betting, things change quickly—for both better and worse.
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