Constituents Pressuring Lawmakers To Pass Sports Betting Legislation In Missouri

Written By Adam Hensley on February 23, 2024
A picture of a pipe under a ton of pressure for a story about how Missouri lawmakers said constituents were urging them to pass sports betting legislation.

Earlier this week, two Missouri politicians talked about how often they hear from constituents on sports betting.

According to a post from reporter Emily Manley on X, the two discussed the issue at the statehouse in Jefferson City on Feb. 19.

“During a Democratic filibuster on initiative petition legislation in the Senate, Sens. Tracy McCreery and Brian Williams are talking about how often they hear from constituents asking why Missouri lawmakers still haven’t passed sports betting.”

After failed attempts to legalize Missouri sports betting the last two years, lawmakers are under even more pressure in 2024 to make it happen.

Constituents putting pressure on lawmakers to legalize sports betting in 2024

State Sen. Tracy McCreery serves Missouri District 24, which encompasses part of St. Louis County. She was first elected to the Senate in 2022 and has shown support for sports betting throughout her term.

In 2022, she posted a graphic on her Facebook page under the headline: “Tracy Supports Legalizing Online Sports Betting.” The post read:

“I support a plan to legalize online sports betting in Missouri. Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Arkansas have all legalized online sports betting. Our state is missing out on revenue when people drive to Illinois to place their bets or do it illegally, and Missouri citizens are missing out on personal freedom to make their own choices.”

State Sen. Brian Williams was first elected to the Missouri Senate in 2018. He serves District 14, which also serves part of St. Louis County. When Williams was elected, he became the first Black man to serve in that role in 20 years.

The fact that both McCreery and Williams talked about hearing from constituents on sports betting is a sign there’s a growing push at the capitol to get it legalized this year. If they’re hearing from the people they represent, certainly other lawmakers are also hearing from their constituents.

Houx’s bill is making its way through Missouri House

On Feb. 20, Manley posted information from GeoComply. It’s an organization that helps businesses comply with betting regulations. With sports betting specifically, it records the locations of people attempting to place a wager.

Manley posted that GeoComply data showed that 431,000 Missouri residents attempted to bet on this month’s Super Bowl.

“That’s a 51% increase from last year.”

Earlier this month, Missouri House Bill 2331 passed the Special Committee on Public Policy on a 5-2 vote. A few days later, the bill passed the Administrative Oversight Committee by a 9-1 margin. That bill would legalize sports betting and put a 10% tax on the operators’ adjusted gross receipts. Additionally, it sets aside $500,000 to help with problem gambling treatment.

The General Assembly conducted a study last year that estimated that Missouri could bring in close to $7 million in tax revenue in 2025 and up to $20 million in 2026.

Republican Rep. Dan Houx is the author of HB 2311. He told PlayMissouri that it’s not just sports betting tax revenue the state is missing out on but tourism dollars.

“The more money that I look at that Missouri’s losing, not only this tax rate that I have in [my bill], roughly $34 million to good education … right now, we’re really, we’re losing out on the residual effects. We’ve got people going across to Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, and just buying a soda or filling up with gas [while placing bets]. I’ve got friends who go across the line into Kansas, they spent half a day, especially during college football season, at a Topgolf. I asked one of the guys how much you spend there. [He said,] ‘Between the four of us, probably $300 or $400 each time.’”

Photo by PlayMissouri
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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