Missouri lawmakers discussed sports betting legislation in a House committee Monday, despite receiving notice from the governor that the topic won’t be incorporated into a special session.
If nothing else, proponents hope to highlight the ever-growing importance of legalizing sports betting in Missouri.
Sports betting could raise revenue for tax cuts
Gov. Mike Parson recently called Missouri legislature back for a special session to work on income tax cuts. State Rep. Dan Houx saw the instance as the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Missouri sports betting discussion.
Houx filed House Bill 4, which was then considered by the House Emerging Issues Committee during Monday’s special session. Admittedly, he hoped to simply keep sports betting at the forefront of discussion with the move.
This new sports betting bill is nearly identical to legislation passed by the House earlier this year during the regular session. The only difference is a 10% tax rate compared to 8%.
Kelli Jones, spokesperson for Parson, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that sports betting is not relevant to the subject of the special session. But Houx and other Missouri lawmakers disagree, noting that the industry is, indeed, relevant to tax cuts.
Emerging Issues Committee member Rep. Scott Cupps also argued that sports betting was within the scope of the call for a special session.
Cupps said that by incorporating more revenue, the state could ultimately cut more taxes.
“So I know the call is fairly narrow but when you start talking about actual budgetary restraints, it would only make sense to me, I think you, I think to a lot of folks on the committee, to maybe include some of these revenue generators in the process of cutting taxes. That way we can go for the gusto and cut taxes to the maximum level that would be responsible.”
Houx agreed and added that it’s their job as representatives to find ways to generate new revenue for the state. He stated that the governor could still expand his call.
Cupps wasn’t giving up on including sports betting in the special session:
“I’m kind of one of those crazy guys who’s holding out hope that maybe we’ll be able to get it done and then be able to cut taxes a little more.”
Kansas sports betting launch irks Missouri
During the hearing, Houx handed out a packet of information regarding the launch of legal sports betting in Kansas thus far.
As previously reported by PlayMissouri, Missouri residents made over 340,000 unsuccessful attempts to wager at mobile sportsbooks within the first two weeks of Kansas sports wagering.
The data comes from GeoComply Solutions, which performs geolocation checks and blocks all wagers attempted outside of Kansas state lines.
During Thursday’s Kansas City Chiefs home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers alone, 48,000 Missouri bettors attempted to place bets on Kansas sportsbooks.
“We have people going to Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee a little bit, daily to place bets and we’re not only losing out on the tax revenue but the revenue those people are spending out of state. So that’s why I brought it together to keep it at the forefront.”
What’s next for Missouri sports betting efforts
The Emerging Issues Committee did not hold a vote on the sports betting legislation Monday.
However, committee members did talk about advancing the bill to another committee. The special session can last no longer than 60 days.
During the hearing, the following organizations had representatives speak in favor of Missouri legalizing sports betting:
- Missouri Gaming Association (representing state casinos)
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Kansas City Royals
- St. Louis Cardinals
- St. Louis Blues
- St. Louis Current
- St. Louis City SC
- Sports Betting Alliance
- Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Players associations from all five major sports leagues
Chris Ropie, a lobbyist representing the St. Louis Cardinals, said:
“This is what our fans want. We get yelled at because they think we are geofencing them out when they come to Busch Stadium for a ballgame. It’s time to get this done. The fans want it. It’s a part of the experience.”
Given the governor’s objections to inclusion in the special session, it seems the groups will have to wait until the next regular session begins in January. Then, perhaps the launch of Kansas sports betting can finally push Missouri legislation across the finish line after five years of discussions.
Missouri Rep. Ashley Aune noted:
“As someone who has been talking to my constituents face to face at their doors for months now, my neighbors are very upset that we haven’t gotten this done in Missouri. I’m sure you are hearing it as well. Missouri should have done this already. We’re losing plenty of money.”