Missouri Lawmakers Reconsider Sports Betting as Momentum Builds

The issue of legalizing sports betting in Missouri has once again come to the forefront as the Missouri House considers House Bill 2331. This bill, championed by Rep. Dan Houx, aims to legalize sports wagering and could potentially generate an estimated $35 million for education through a 10% tax on bets.

The push for sports betting legalization has gained support from various quarters, including St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, who emphasized the economic benefits of legalizing sports betting. Additionally, Missouri’s professional sports teams and mobile gaming giants like FanDuel and DraftKings have contributed $2 million to a signature collection effort in support of the initiative.

This signature collection effort, led by the “Winning for Missouri Education” coalition, aims to collect a minimum of 180,000 signatures to be eligible for inclusion on the November ballot. If successful, professional sports teams would assume responsibility for sports betting operations and advertising within a 400-yard radius of their stadiums.

However, the proposed legislation has faced opposition from lobbyist Bob Priddy, who argues that the 10% tax rate is insufficient compared to the 21% tax rate imposed on casinos. Meanwhile, proponents like Sean Ostrow, representing FanDuel and DraftKings, argue that Missouri is missing out on revenue, as an estimated 350,000 residents attempt to place bets on mobile devices.

In addition to the potential impact on riverboat casinos, the proposed bill also opens the door for mobile bets, allowing internet users to engage in sports wagering within the state.

As the Missouri House deliberates on HB 2331, another bill, SB852, championed by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, introduces a stiffer 12% tax on sportsbooks. This multi-faceted approach, combined with the efforts of professional sports teams to appeal directly to voters, showcases the complexity of the push to legalize sports betting in Missouri.