The 2023 session of the Missouri General Assembly is more than six weeks underway, and six sports betting bills are set for debate in Jefferson City.
The three House bills, filed by Reps. Dave Griffith, Dan Houx and Phil Cristofanelli, have all been taken up in the Emerging Issues Committee. Senate bills from Denny Hoskins and Tony Leutkemeyer were heard by the Appropriations Committee on Feb. 22, while the last Senate bill, SB 557 from Sen. Nick Schroer, awaits scheduling for its first hearing.
The hope is that lawmakers can agree on one piece of legislation, pass it through both chambers and get it to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk to sign it into law.
Six Missouri bills would legalize in-person and online sports betting
Lawmakers could not agree on a bill to legalize Missouri sports betting in last year’s General Assembly session. Although Rep. Houx’s proposal passed the House, it was ultimately killed in the Senate.
This session, most of the sports betting legislation filed looks to allow similar types of legal sports betting. All of them would legalize both in-person and online betting. Some of the bills would charge casinos increasing amounts for the number of sportsbooks they house.
All six also place restrictions on advertising and where operators can obtain official league data to determine the outcomes of bets. Each is also expected to prohibit gambling on elementary and secondary school athletics.
Meanwhile, five of the six bills specifically address tiered betting (explained more below). And two of the Senate bills call for legalizing video lottery terminals (VLTs).
Hoskins will filibuster if VLTs are not in final bill
SB 1, Hoskins’ bill, and Schroer’s bill, SB 557, would legalize VLTs. Hoskins has been outspoken on legalizing VLTs, while many lawmakers, law enforcement agencies and Missouri casinos oppose making them legal.
Hoskins led the filibuster in the Senate last year that killed the House bill, and he has threatened to do the same this session if VLTs are not part of the legislation.
Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s bill, SB 30, has the support of professional sports teams and several sportsbooks.
Two House sports betting bills are similar
The bills from Houx and Cristofanelli share many of the same components. Houx’s HB 556 and Cristofanelli’s HB 581 both call for a 10% tax on adjusted gross income and require exclusion zones around sports venues. The Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) would be the regulator under both proposals.
Both bills would ban betting on individual college athletes and allow operators to make tax deductions for 100% of promotional bets during the first year. Such write-offs would reduce by 25% each year and would end completely in Year 5.
They both also say official league data approved by the MGC must be used to determine Tier 2 wagers.
Houx’s bill would allow each casino to house three sportsbooks, while sports venues could have just one.
Griffith’s bill, HB 953, would collect a 21% tax on adjusted gross revenue. It’s also the only bill that doesn’t address tiered betting.
Tier 1 and tier 2 betting
Most of these Missouri bills address tiered sports betting — a term that refers to what’s being bet on. For example, if a bet is placed on the outcome of a game before the game begins, that’s a tier 1 bet. All other bets are tier 2. Those could include bets on the performance of individual players, in-game bets on outcome, or bets placed across a period of time.
Tier 1 bets are the most widely accepted and common form of sports wagering. Tier 2 bets, while popular, tend to face more criticism and controversy.
Some of Missouri’s proposed bills explore how sports betting operators can accurately determine the outcome of different tiers of bets. Some state regulations differ on what kind of data operators can use for tier 1 bets compared to tier 2 bets.
Most of the bills at the Missouri statehouse include the phrase, “official league data,” which the MGC has decided is a reliable source of accurate data. Official league data is primarily utilized for tier 2 bets, as the outcomes of tier 1 bets are universally accessible.