Time Runs Out On Missouri Sports Betting Bills

Written By Cheryl Coward on May 17, 2024
A dead end sign

There won’t be a last-minute drive in the fourth quarter for Missouri sports betting this year. As with the three previous legislative sessions, lawmakers have failed to get the ball across the goal line.

The session wraps up today with the state no closer to legalizing sports betting. In fact, lawmakers made less progress this year than in the last two years. No sports betting bill made it out of either chamber of the General Assembly in 2024.

Luckily, Missouri sports bettors still have hope. A referendum on November’s ballot could win the game in the end.

Three Sports Betting Bills Die in Committee

All four Missouri sports betting bills introduced at the statehouse in 2024 failed to gain much traction.

House Bill 2331, introduced by Rep. Dan Houx, traveled the furthest. Lawmakers debated the bill in several committee hearings, and it made it to the House floor. However, the House never had a full-chamber vote on it. The measure imposed a tax rate of 10% on both online and retail sports betting. It would have barred betting on in-state college teams.

The other House measure, House Bill 2835, was sponsored by Rep. Crystal Quade. It was meant to appease Sen. Denny Hoskins, who demanded that any sports betting measure must also include the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs). Regulating and taxing the slots-like gaming machines found in gas stations, bars and convenience stores across the state was a non-starter for most lawmakers.

Hoskins used the filibuster to halt Houx’s previous House-passed sports betting bills from advancing in the Senate. He threatened to do the same this year.

Two sports betting bills were introduced in the Senate this year. Hoskins introduced Senate Bill 824, which would have legalized VLTs and set a 10% tax on sports betting. Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer filed Senate Bill 852 early in the session. Like HB 2331, it would have allowed both retail and online sports betting, the former at the state’s 13 riverboat casinos. It imposed a 12% tax rate.

Both bills failed to exit the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Hopes Rest with Ballot Measure

With Missouri lawmakers failing to advance sports betting legislation again this year, all eyes turn to the Secretary of State’s Office. A ballot initiative to bypass lawmakers and put the sports betting question on November’s ballot awaits certification.

A political action committee supported by DraftKings and FanDuel, along with the state’s professional sports teams, collected nearly double the required signatures to get a referendum on the ballot. Winning for Missouri Education said it submitted 340,000 signatures from registered voters by the May 5 deadline, roughly 160,000 more than was required.

It calls for a 10% tax on sports betting, with the majority of tax revenue funding education programs and services in Missouri. The Secretary of State’s Office should certify or deny the initiative by mid-summer.

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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a contributor for PlayMissouri with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She’s a die-hard women’s basketball fanatic and founded the website Hoopfeed.com as a result of that passion. She has extensive experience covering gambling and sports betting in California, including coverage of the Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 election battle.

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