Could 2023 mark the year that Missouri sports betting finally becomes legal?
Bipartisan support for the measure grows in the Missouri legislature, suggesting that could very well be the case.
Missouri sports betting hope for 2023
Missouri Rep. Dan Houx has made multiple attempts to jumpstart a discussion about Missouri sports betting.
His most recent failed attempt, House Bill 4, ultimately didn’t even receive a vote. The reason, legislators said, was because Jefferson City lawmakers
Governor Mike Parson was quick to put the breaks on any positive conversation, though, saying that Jefferson City lawmakers were called for the special session to discuss tax cuts, not sports betting.
Houx argued that sports betting was, indeed, related to tax cuts because it offered the state a lucrative new source of revenue.
While his comments did little to persuade Parson, they caught the attention of several influential Missouri legislators.
Support for sports betting grows among Missouri legislators
Houx is no longer alone in his aspirations for sports betting in Missouri.
Indeed, powerful legislators including Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden and Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo understand that each day sports betting remains illegal in Missouri, the state misses out on significant revenue.
Rep. Ashley Aune represents Missouri’s District 14, which encompasses areas in Platte and Clay County in Kansas City, near the Missouri-Kansas border. Due to its proximity to a state where sports betting is now legal, Kansas City is seeing increased interstate travel by Missouri residents heading across the border to place bets. This, in turn, means state tax revenue is funneling into Kansas rather than staying in Missouri.
Aune told the Kansas City Star:
“As someone who has been talking to my constituents face to face at their doors for months now, my neighbors are very upset that we haven’t gotten this done already . . . Missouri should have done this already.”
Opposition to legal sports wagering is diminishing, and some of the few roadblocks that remain, such as Sen. Dennis Hoskins, have expressed a willingness to work with Houx and his fellow lawmakers to find common ground.
In a tweet earlier this year, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry itself said:
“Legalizing sports betting in MO will increase fan engagement, boost economic activity and create a new revenue source for the state. Sounds like a win-win-win to us.”
The state’s sports teams that agree include:
- Kansas City Royals
- Kansas City Chiefs
- St. Louis Cardinals
- St. Louis Blues
And while casinos were initially skeptical of how sports betting might affect their bottom line, they’ve since collaborated with state lawmakers and professional sports teams to find a path that works for everyone.
Election day could sway MO sports betting timeline
Sports betting will almost inevitably make its way to the House and Senate floors during the next (regular) legislative session in Jan. 2023. Moreover, many indicators suggest MO sports betting will pass with flying colors in 2023.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle between now and then could be Nov. 8 — election day. It will mark the first election since redistricting took place.
Houx is seeking his third term in the Missouri House, and he is running uncontested in the 2022 election.
Aune, going for her second term, hopes to pull off a victory in what was already a very competitive House district that shed Democratic voters during redistricting.
Hoskins, however, is not up for reelection until 2024, and sports betting proponents hope he proves to be an asset rather than a headache this time around.
It’s unclear if the election will determine the fate of sports betting next year. One thing remains certain, though — an increasingly loud majority have their sights set on legalizing Missouri sports betting.
At this point, it’s just a matter of putting the ball in motion.