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Missouri Sports Betting Bill Advancing Through House, But Does it Matter?

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Feb 12, 2024 · 6:44 AM PST

Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles out of the pocket under pressure from San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Arik Armstead (91) in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
  • A bill to legalize sports betting in Missouri is advancing through the House
  • Disarray in the Senate may halt any progress the bill makes
  • A recent poll shows Missouri voters are in favor of sports betting

A Missouri sports betting bill is making its way through the House of Representatives, but likely faces uncertainty in the Senate if approved.

Rep. Dan Houx (R-54) introduced a bill last month, HB 2331, to legalize retail and online sports betting in the state with a tax rate of 10% on adjusted gross revenue. Under his proposal, Missouri’s 13 casinos would be able to offer retail sports betting and partner with up to three operators for online sports betting.

A Special Committee on Public Policy recommended the bill “do pass” by a 5-2 vote last week.

Is Progress All for Nothing?

Under Houx’s bill, Missouri’s 13 casinos would be able to offer retail sports betting and partner with up to three operators for online sports betting. Missouri professional sports team would be able to offer online sports betting and partner with one operator. Additionally, two standalone online sports betting operators could be licensed in the state as well.

The bill is similar to legislation Houx introduced last year. It was approved by the House, but stalled out in the Senate.

The bill has yet to be scheduled for another committee hearing.

But is the bill movement any cause for optimism that sports betting legislation has any chance in the state this year? It’s unlikely, as sports betting bills have been blocked in the Senate for the last several years. Adding to the challenge, the Missouri Senate is mired in chaos this session which threatens to derail any slim chance a bill had at passing through the chamber this year.

In late January, Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden (R-19) announced four Senators, who call themselves the Freedom Caucus, would be stripped of their respective committee chairman seats and have demoted parking privileges. Rowden levied the measures after the members held up Senate for more than 11 hours at the start of the month to force action on bills to make ballot initiatives harder to pass.

Two of these senators, Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-21) and Sen. Bill Eigel (R-23), have been instrumental in blocking sports betting legislation for the past several years. Both have filibustered any hearing of a sports betting bill on the Senate floor that does not also include the legalization of VLTs.

Rowden and Hoskins will be running against each other this year for Missouri’s Secretary of State position.

The Senate disarray has trumped nearly all legislative efforts so far this session, which does not bode well for a sports betting bill to be passed.

Missouri Voters in Favor of Sports Betting

While efforts in the legislature may fail, the Winning for Missouri Education campaign committee is still moving ahead with signature collecting to allow Missouri voters to decide the fate of sports betting in the state.

The campaign, which represents interests of the St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis CITY SC, and the Kansas City Current, have started collecting the necessary 171,592 verified signatures to place a sports betting initiative on the state’s November general election ballot.

The committee recently pointed to the results of a FOX4 and Emerson College poll that surveyed 1,830 registered Missouri voters, which found that 62% of the respondents supported legalizing sports betting to help fund Missouri education.

The survey found that 69% of male voters and 57% of female voters would vote in favor of a ballot initiative to legalize Missouri sports betting.

“Each year that goes by without legalized sports betting, Missouri loses out on tens of millions of dollars that should be helping fund Missouri education,” said Jack Cardetti, spokesman for Winning for Missouri Education. “As this week’s Super Bowl will highlight, Missourians are already placing billions of dollars in bets annually on illegal, offshore websites or in neighboring states, without a penny currently going to our classrooms. Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Missourians in every corner of the state want to bring those economic impacts back to the Show Me State to help strengthen our communities and provide tens of millions to education each year.”

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