Missouri Sports Betting Bill Back For ‘Extraordinary’ Session, Inclusion Unlikely

Written By Matthew Kredell on September 16, 2022
Missouri Sports Betting Bill Returns

Missouri sports betting has a chance to return from the dead next week in an extraordinary turn of events.

State legislature will discuss the topic during a special session this coming Monday.

Missouri to begin special session next week

Gov. Mike Parson called on the Missouri legislature this week to begin a special session on tax cuts. Rep. Dan Houx then took the opportunity to reintroduce his Missouri sports betting legislation. The new industry, Houx said, could facilitate these proposed reductions by generating additional tax revenue for the state.

Houx filed HB 4 on Wednesday — a bill that happens to be identical to the one passed by the House during the regular session in March.

The bill is scheduled to be heard and possibly voted on this coming Monday in the Emerging Issues Committee. In the event that it advances from the committee, lawmakers could then add the bill as an amendment to the taxation measure expected to come from the special session.

Houx explained:

“The current extraordinary session was called by the governor to have robust discussion to keep as much of Missourians’ own money in their hands while ensuring we continue ‘managing our state finances while balancing our budget every year.’ I feel strongly that an important part of that discussion must include removing barriers that cause Missourians to spend their hard-earned money in other states.”

Where Missouri left off on sports betting

The fifth year of sports betting discussion in Missouri, 2022, began with optimism. Missouri casinos and sports teams pushed a joint proposal in hopes of propelling legislation across the finish line.

Houx’s bill legalizes sports betting in person and online for Missouri’s 13 casinos and six sports entities. Getting the bill through the House for the first time this year marked a significant step in the right direction.

But once the bill hit the Senate, additional gaming issues once again derailed legalization efforts.

Sen. Denny Hoskins and some of his colleagues believe Missouri shouldn’t pass sports betting without regulating another gaming industry already operating within the state. He wants to legitimize slot-like gambling machines in bars throughout the state as video lottery terminals. These machines currently exist within a legal gray area in Missouri — neither fully legal nor quite illegal.

When the session ended this May, Hoskins and the state’s casino industry pointed fingers at each other.

There’s no indication that these issues have since been resolved to facilitate passage in a special session.

Governor’s special plan doesn’t include sports betting

In his special session call, Gov. Parsons directed lawmakers to cut the top income tax rate from 5.3% to 4.8%. He also wants to increase the standard deduction by $2,000 for single filers and $4,000 for couples.

He made no mention of sports betting. But many lawmakers filed bills this week hoping to tag onto the tax legislation.

Kansas and Missouri recently engaged in a relatively public battle over which state would legalize sports betting first. Kansas ultimately won out, launching sports wagering this month prior to the start of the NFL season.

Houx is well aware of the bleed out of Missouri residents crossing the border into Kansas to place legal wagers. If the governor wants to implement tax cuts, Houx thinks it prudent to keep sports betting money in the state.

“After watching an exodus of Missourians over the last two weeks contribute to Kansans’ economy through sportsbooks, it is clear Missouri has missed an opportunity to be responsible in maintaining a balanced budget while also cutting taxes. As Kansas and other surrounding states capitalize at our cost, I believe adding sportsbook to the discussion rises to the level of extraordinary. This is why, despite being outside of the governor’s call, I have filed HB 4 and I hope the governor will give serious consideration to expanding the call.”

The Missouri Emerging Issues Committee will convene this Monday, Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. ET to begin discussing state tax cuts and the potential integration of sports betting.

Photo by Nuthawut Somsuk
Matthew Kredell Avatar
Written by
Matthew Kredell

Matthew has covered efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling since 2007. His reporting on the legalization of sports betting began in 2010 with an article for Playboy Magazine on how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting the expansion of regulated sports betting. A USC journalism alum, Matt started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News and has written on a variety of topics for Playboy, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

View all posts by Matthew Kredell