Rep Sponsoring MO Sports Betting Bill Says Voters Calling For It … Literally

Written By Phil West on February 13, 2024 - Last Updated on February 15, 2024
A picture of a bullhorn shouting for an online sportsbook for a story about how a Missouri lawmaker says his constituents are calling for sports betting.

As Missouri State Rep. Dan Houx sees it, there’s plenty of demand for sports betting in his home state.

“I’m continuing working for my constituents, who call me on a daily basis asking for sports gambling.”

His latest attempt at sports betting legalization is making its way through the House. Legislation passed that body in 2023 before stalling in the Senate.

The result was the state missing millions of dollars in tax revenue, Houx told PlayMissouri.

Houx’s 2024 bill has passed one House committee vote

A bill to legalize Missouri sports betting in 2022 also passed the House before dying in the Senate. This year’s bill, HB 2311, cleared its first hurdle, getting past the Special Committee on Public Policy by a 5-2 vote. It currently awaits a decision from the Administrative Oversight Committee.

The bill includes a 10% tax on adjusted gross receipts from sportsbooks and $500,000 set aside to address problem gambling.

According to a study by the General Assembly, tax revenue from Missouri sports betting could bring in nearly $7 million in 2025 and exceed $20 million in 2026.

Houx says Missouri losing millions of dollars to neighboring states

Houx said an incredible amount of betting is being attempted in Missouri from people trying to access online sportsbooks while still in Missouri’s borders.

“I believe it was July and Dec. 31 of this past year, there were 13.5 million bets attempted to be placed in the state of Missouri from 400,000 spots, meaning cell phones.”

Additionally, Houx noted just how much money Missouri is ceding to neighboring states that allow sports betting. And it is not just tax revenue. Houx told PlayMissouri that tourism dollars are flowing out of the state from residents who combine sports betting with out-of-state excursions.

“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.’”

Hoskins could stop sports betting legislation in the Senate again this year

Should his sports betting bill pass the House again, Houx hopes the third time’s a charm in the Senate. However, he knows that many of the same players are in office from last year. That includes Sen. Denny Hoskins, who has single-handedly stalled sports betting legislation the last two sessions. He insists that the legalization of video lottery terminals be included in any sports betting bill.

Houx thinks things might be different this session.

“The senator and I have had brief conversations, and when I say brief, I mean extremely brief. We’re just not seeing eye to eye on things. And, who knows, every year is a little bit different. So maybe with him running for a higher position (a reference to Hoskins’ bid to become Missouri’s secretary of state), maybe he wants to do something.”

He also mentioned the possibility that sports betting could find its way to Missouri voters via a ballot initiative.

“That could be on the ballot; they’ve got to get signatures first. So, there’s definitely that pressure a little bit on the Legislature.”

Houx expressed concern, however, that the issue might not move the needle with his fellow legislators.

“I talk to senators every day. You know, it’s definitely a mixed bag. We have other priorities we need to hear the same first. It’s probably not even the top 10 priorities in the state.”

It is for sports fans in Missouri who could not travel out of the state and missed a chance to place a bet on their beloved Kansas City Chiefs, who won a second straight Super Bowl title on Sunday.

Photo by PlayMissouri
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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