Here’s Where Missouri’s 4 Sports Betting Bills Stand With 8 Weeks To Go

Written By Steve Schult on March 29, 2024
A picture of a status bar for a story about where Missouri's sports betting bills are in the legislative process.

Since 2018, lawmakers in the Missouri General Assembly have attempted to pass a bill that would bring sports betting to the Show Me State. And, repeatedly, the bills have stalled.

That may be the case again in this year’s legislative session.

Lawmakers introduced four sports betting bills this year. There are two in the Missouri Senate and two in the House of Representatives. The latter has passed sports betting legislation each of the past two years. But each time, the measures die in the Senate.

Here’s a look at where current sports wagering legislation stands and the chances of passage in 2024.

Lawmakers have less than 2 months to pass a sports betting bill

Time is of the essence for Missouri sports betting, as the General Assembly adjourns on May 17. The lawmakers returned from spring break on March 25, leaving about eight weeks to pass a bill and send it to Gov. Mike Parson’s desk.

The Senate has a few more pressing bills to consider. As a result, Senators may not have the urgency to pass sports betting legislation. Instead, they could prioritize the state operating budget or the Federal Reimbursement Allowance tax, which funds much of the state’s Medicaid program.

Missouri constituents, casinos and sports teams all want sports betting. Despite the support, legislators are pessimistic about their ability to pass sports betting through both chambers this session.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, the sponsor of one of the Senate sports betting bills, told local media the legislature is “unlikely” to pass sports betting legislation this year.

Stakeholders are working toward a workaround by collecting enough signatures to put a sports betting ballot initiative in front of voters in November should lawmakers fail this session again.

Hoskins’ bill includes VLT concessions

Authored by state Sen. Denny Hoskins, Senate Bill 824 had its first reading in the Senate on the first day of the session. Then, the Senate referred the bill to the Appropriations Committee on Jan. 11. The committee hasn’t scheduled a time to discuss the bill yet.

Hoskins has been a central figure in Missouri’s legalization of sports betting. However, he typically fills the antagonist’s role. In other words, he’s usually the villain and not the hero.

During the past two years, Hoskins is the driving force that blocks the sports betting legislation. The self-described “obstructionist” believes that any sports betting bill must also legalize and regulate video lottery terminals.

These machines resemble slot machines and are found at gas stations and bars throughout the state. There’s no law expressly stating they are either illegal or legal. Thus, they operate in a grey area that Hoskins wants to clear up.

Hoskins’ SB 824 includes provisions establishing a licensing and regulatory framework for VLTs. The bill taxes revenue at a 36% clip and would use the revenue to fund education and veterans’ causes.

Missouri’s 13 casinos are against VLT legalization. The casinos have exclusivity over slot machines and these machines are direct competition.

The state’s pro sports teams have said they want a clean sports betting bill, without the VLT concessions. It appears that most of the General Assembly, outside of Hoskins, and a few other lawmakers generally oppose adding VLTs to sports betting bills.

SB 824 would give sports betting licenses to the state’s 13 casinos for in-person betting and allow them to partner with up to three online sportsbooks. Hoskins’ bill has a 10% tax rate on sports betting revenue.

Non-VLT Senate bill also unlikely to move forward this session

Senate Bill 852 followed much the same path as Hoskins’s bill. Introduced by Luetkemeyer in January, the bill was also referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It also hasn’t moved since.

Luetkemeyer is the vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee. The fact that neither sports betting bill has been discussed suggests that neither will be the bill that legalizes sports betting in Missouri.

SB 852 would also give casinos licensing privileges (three online sportsbook skins for each) and allow Missouri’s sports teams to each partner with one online sportsbook. Luetkemeyer’s bill would tax sports betting revenue at 12%.

SB 852 does not include the VLT component. The senator seems to be looking to pass a sports betting bill in 2025, when Hoskins will no longer be a member of the General Assembly. Due to term limits, this is Hoskins’ last year in the Senate.

Luetkemeyer told STLPR that, while there will still be lawmakers pushing for VLTs’ inclusion, he doesn’t think they will go to the lengths Hoskins has to kill legislation that doesn’t include it.

One House bill seems likely to pass, move to Senate

In the House, House Bill 2331 has worked its way through a pair of committees and seems set for an imminent floor vote. Introduced by state Rep. Dan Houx in January, HB 2331 passed through the Special Committee on Public Policy and the Administrative Oversight Committee, which voted to recommend full passage of HB 2331 on Feb. 13.

On March 12, the bill was moved to the House’s Formal Perfection Calendar, meaning it will soon be further debated and, if necessary, amended by the full House. Should it pass in a subsequent House floor vote, the bill would go to the Senate. There, it would go through a similar committee hearing and passage process.

Houx was also behind the House bills that passed the past two years. HB 2331 is shaped like the other bills mentioned, with a 10% tax rate revenue going to education, and casinos and sports teams partnering on online sportsbook licenses.

But it doesn’t have the VLT component, which means it could likely once again hit Hoskins’ blockade in the Senate.

House bill with VLT component recently introduced

Minority Leader Rep. Crystal Quade introduced the bill to the House on Feb. 27. From a sports betting framework, Quade’s HB 2835 mirrors much of Houx’s bill. But she also included language to legalize VLTs.

Quade told PlayMissouri that it was time to regulate VLTs because so many already illegally operate in the state. Her bill taxes VLT revenue at 33% and would fund education and public safety with the revenue.

While the concessions may help appease the pro-VLT contingent in the Senate, without the backing of casinos and sports teams, it’s unclear if it can pass the House. No committee hearing is scheduled.

Quade seems aware that HB 2835 won’t get far, telling the Springfield Daily Citizen she introduced it more as a “conversation-starter” to show that compromise was possible.

Photo by PlayMissouri
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Steve Schult

Steve Schult is the managing editor of PlayMissouri and several other Catena Media sites. The New York native spent a decade covering high-stakes poker tournaments for some of the game’s biggest outlets before joining Catena Media at the start of 2022. Since then, Schult has covered several regional gambling markets including Florida, California, Ohio and Kentucky.

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