The race is on to get sports betting legalized in Missouri.
Bills in the Missouri General Assembly and a ballot initiative spearheaded by the state’s professional teams are the most recent attempts to make sports wagering legal this year in the Show Me State.
However, legislation in the House cleared the first hurdle in legalizing a Missouri sports betting market. Legislation sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx, House Bill 2331, passed the Special Committee on Public Policy by a 5-2 vote.
No partisanship in committee vote
Five Republicans and two Democrats comprise the committee. The committee yielded a 5-2 split, but there was no hint of partisanship in the vote.
The two Democrats, Rep. Mark Sharp and Rep. Robert Sauls, both voted for HB 2331. They joined Rep. Terry Thompson, Rep. Jeff Knight and Houx as the ‘Yes’ votes. Rep. Brad Hudson and Rep. Hannah Kelly were the two legislators against the bill.
A closer look at HB 2331
This is the third time in as many years that Houx has introduced sports betting legislation into the lower chamber. His attempts typically breeze through the House but hit roadblocks in the Senate.
The bill would amend the definition of “games of skill” in the Revised Statutes of Missouri to include sports wagering.
HB 2331 would:
- Allow sports betting at existing casinos
- Allow online sportsbooks to begin accepting wagers
- Prohibit betting on in-state college teams
- Impose a 10% tax on adjusted gross receipts from sportsbooks
- Allocate the tax revenue to the state treasury as a “Gaming Proceeds for Education Fund”
According to a study by the General Assembly, tax revenue from sports betting could be nearly $7 million in 2025 and exceed $20 million in 2026.
Hoskins looms in the Senate
Like every good Disney movie, Missouri sports betting has a powerful villain. Sen. Denny Hoskins has thwarted attempts to get sports betting legislation through the Senate the last two years.
He wants lawmakers to legalize video lottery terminals along with sports wagering. VLTs are slot machines found in gas stations and taverns across Missouri. Hoskins is expected to stand in the way again this session.
On the other hand, Hoskins sponsored one of the two Senate sports betting bills introduced in early January. Hoskins’ legislation was nearly identical to the one submitted by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer. The only difference is that Hoskins’ would legalize VLTs. Those two sit in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
What’s next for HB 2331?
Houx’s legislation heads back to the House floor for an open debate. During the debate, House members could add amendments to the bill. For example, lawmakers could address Hoskins’ VLT concerns and add an amendment at this point of the process.
Following the debate, members will vote on the bill. A successful vote sends the bill to a third reading, and then another vote.
If 82 members of the House approve the bill, HB 2331 goes to the Senate for a similar process of readings, committee assignments and a final vote. If the bill makes it out of the Senate, it will be sent to Gov. Mike Parson for his signature to become law.