A couple of sports betting bills sponsored by Reps. Dan Houx and Phil Christofanelli underwent a second hearing in the Emerging Issues Committee on Feb. 23 and passed.
HB 556 and HB 581 received 12 yes votes, 0 no votes and 2 absents, marking the most significant progress on any sport betting legislation in the 2023 legislative session. The bills have yet to be scheduled for another committee or the House floor, where they would have to survive two rounds of voting before heading to the Senate.
Houx’s sports betting bill made it to Senate in 2022
In the 2022 session of the Missouri General Assembly, it was Houx’s bill that made it through the House. Legalizing Missouri sports betting could hinge on his 2023 bill. Sen. Denny Hoskins drastically raised Houx’s proposed tax rate of 8% in last year’s bill to 21% when it got to the Senate. He also added the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs) to the measure, which pretty much killed it in the Senate.
In the House this year, amendments and substitutions were made to HB 556 to address some of the concerns expressed during the public testimony on Feb. 8. The new changes both added some additional language and sought to address concerns of players. There was no opposition to any of the changes made to the bills.
Although both bills have been presented in unison and, as Houx acknowledged in their first committee hearing, they are identical, the language of HB 556 has been used as the template for the amendments.
Senate committee passes one, fails one; other two bills in limbo
The only other House bill, HB 953 by Rep. Dave Griffith, underwent an Emerging Issues Committee public hearing on Feb. 15 but has yet to be taken up for a vote.
On Feb. 23, two sports betting bills in the Senate, SB 1 and also SB 30, authored by Hoskins and Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, respectively, were taken up for a vote in the Appropriations Committee. Luetkemeyer’s bill passed. Hoskins’ failed. The latter’s inclusion of VLTs in his measure has been met with much opposition.
The only other sports betting bill, SB 557 by Sen. Nick Schroer, has yet to progress beyond its first reading on Jan. 26.
Despite Hoskins’ bill not passing the Appropriation Committee, he still has the power to heavily influence sports betting legalization. He has threatened to filibuster any betting bills that don’t include VLTs, which is what doomed last year’s efforts to legalize sports wagering.