Missouri pro teams, sports betting legalization supporters make final push as session end nears

Missouri pro teams, sports betting legalization supporters make final push as session end nears

Missouri proffesional sports teams and legalization backers are making a last-minute push for sports betting in the state as the session ticks away and neighboring Kansas moves forward with its own plans for a legal sports gaming market. 

The pro team’s ongoing lobbying efforts come as the Legislature’s upper chamber debated a proposal late Wednesday that would tax sports wagers at a 15% rate, almost double an 8% tax approved earlier this year by the House.

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), would generate an estimated $114 million in revenue and would also allow certain kinds of bets to be placed at locations where Missouri Lottery tickets are sold.

The new plan comes a week after the Senate was unable to approve an earlier Hoskins proposal that was tied to an attempt to rid the state of illegal slot machines, reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The failure of this plan led many to believe sports betting hopes for this year were dead, but many stakeholders believe that isn’t the case yet.

“We continue to discuss issues related to sports betting legislation with our coalition partners as well as certain legislators,” MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III told the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday, as lobbying efforts persist in the final days of the annual legislative session.

Hoskins has also been communicating with other state’s pro sports teams, as well as casino interests. Their push comes as neighboring Kansas prepares to join the growing number of states with a legal sports betting market.

The state’s sports teams -which also include NHL’s St. Louis Blues and the St. Louis City soccer club; plus NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals- have formed a coalition with casinos and sports betting platforms to finally bring sports betting to the state.

MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals

With their backing, a plan was approved by the House in March which allows the state’s 13 casinos and sports venues to offer retail sports betting, and mobile wagering through platforms such as FanDuel or DraftKings. However, the push has not been as effective in the Senate, where it has run into a series of hurdles

The bill in the Senate also authorizes parlay bets on sports teams at convenience stores in addition to casinos, which drew pushback from some legislators. The proposal further calls for $5 million to address problem gambling; a 15% tax on bets that could generate about $34 million a year for the state; and a $1.25 million annual fee per skin or platform.

“I tried to pass a stand-alone sportsbook bill tonight, unfortunately I ran into some resistance,” Hoskins wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “But I’ll keep working toward a compromise bill that provides funding for our veterans & education!”

I tried to pass a stand alone Sportsbook bill tonight, unfortunately I ran into some resistance. But I’ll keep working toward a compromise bill that provides funding for our veterans & education! #moleg @PeteMundo @AlexGold @610SportsKC @sports_handle @Chiefs @Royals @Cardinals https://t.co/yilCHPJiFv

— Senator Denny Hoskins, CPA (@DLHoskins) May 5, 2022

Sen. Bill White was among those who questioned the proposal and the expected economic benefits it would provide. He called it a “contentious” bill that could potentially lead low-income Missourians to lose their money to gambling, and said legalization could benefit operators but not the people of Missouri.

There’s still until May 13, the date when the legislative session ends. Although time is running out, Hoskins hopes a passage is still possible. After all, it was possible in Kansas, where lawmakers also had difficulties: a bill passed both legislative chambers last week, and currently awaits a signature from Gov. Laura Kelly.