Missouri has been a bit of a loner as neighboring states have taken up sports betting more seriously and have begun accumulating tax revenue for the coffers. The Show Me State, though, has been a little slow to act – no more. Rep. Phil Christofanelli has pre-filed a new bill on Wednesday that is the first draft law filed anywhere in the United States for the upcoming 2022 legislative session. Yet, he’s not the only one pondering how long before the state manages to legalize its sports gambling industry.
Speaking to KSDK, a local media, Rep. Dan Shaul, said that he and his colleagues were motivated to get sports betting through the legislature and allow Missouri residents to place a bet on sports (meaning more bills are coming and one by Shaul, no doubt). Shaul predicates this on the fact that Missouri gamblers are reportedly spending millions of taxable money elsewhere, mostly across the border or even offshore, through illegal gambling sites.
Missouri already has the language in its constitution to suggest that the state would benefit from legalizing more of what is already happening. Specifically, the state constitution says that money obtained through gambling would then be reinvested back in education or to maintain veterans’ homes.
Shaul believes that the state has reached a point where it’s hurting too much not to act on creating a legal framework for sports gambling to take place within the state’s borders. He cites both the offshore sportsbooks and neighboring states as the net benefactors of this inaction. According to him, “the state got $790 million from the NFL” and said that solutions such as video lottery terminals and sports gaming could actually translate into $400 million in taxes every year.
His numbers seem to be a little off as Missouri is a state of six million people, but it’s unlikely that it would reach the above-stated milestone. The tax New Jersey collected in 2020 was just shy of $51 million. However, the state did generate $400 million in total sports betting handle, which could be what has Shaul confused.
One Bill, Two Gambling Laws
Shaul, who is a proponent of sports betting, is confident that he and his colleagues can take the matter of sports betting and video lottery terminals and push it through the legislature during the 2022 session. With the session beginning on January 5, 2022, Shaul is looking for an early start.
He will most likely be backed by the likes of Sen. Denny Hoskins, a Republican and a long-time supporter of sports gambling. Hoskins commented:
“Some of the issues that we’ve had in the past, as far as royalty fees and tax rate and things like that, we’ve been working on with many of the stakeholders involved.”Sen. Denny Hoskins
However, Hoskins and Shaul are hardly enough to see the measure pushed through legislation. They are not the only ones looking to forward a legalized sports gambling industry. As it turns out, many of Missouri’s professional sports teams are also hoping to establish sports gambling on their own.
The MLB Royals and Cardinals, the MLS St. Louis City Soccer Club, and NHL Blues are all backing various ballot proposals that could lead to the legalization of sports gambling on professional sports.
This plan is a little less ambitious than what Shaul and Hoskins seem to have in mind, but it may be just a bit more feasible given that gambling is a delicate issue that always elicits heated debates and strong opposition. Commenting on developments, the teams issued a joint letter over a month ago and argued that in the absence of support from the legislature, they would try and take matters into their own hands.
But What about Christofanelli’s Bill?
In brief, House Bill 1666, filed by Christofanelli, suggests that sports betting is taxed at 6.75% and allows sports leagues to have a say in what types of wagers are allowed. However, the bill does not give sports bodies exclusive power to decide, just offer their recommendations.
Any license holder that wants to launch a business in Missouri would have to pay an initial $50,000 fee and then pay for license extension and renewal at a rate of $40,000 every year. The bill also sets the Missouri Gaming Commission as a would-be regulator, and before any digital sportsbook may open for business, they would need to team up with an existing property, such as the gambling boats.
As a result, gambling boats would receive permits to run as gambling businesses that can support interactive sports platforms, at which point, the operators would need to also obtain the pertinent license.