Missouri’s online and retail sports betting bill clarified

Finally for Missouri bettors, a sports betting bill has been approved by the House, but it still likely requires cooperation with the Senate to get it over the line. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Pro, college sports betting approved

The Missouri House of Representatives has approved sports betting bill HB 2502. The House voted 115 to 33 Thursday in favor of the bill that seeks to legalize in-person and online betting on professional and collegiate sports in Missouri.

Gaming and sports betting lawyer Daniel Wallach announced the passage of the bill on Friday via Twitter:

The result is good news for Missouri bettors and the state’s 13 licensed casino operators. It will also delight Missouri’s major league franchises — which include the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals and MLS’s St. Louis City SC — who have all backed the legislation.

This is also good news in terms of traction, as the first sports betting bill dates back to 2018. Since then, no bill has been passed in the House. the Springfield News Manager quotes the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dan Holux (R), as saying Thursday’s session was “the first time we’ve had everyone at the table” on the issue.

The Senate, a potential sticking point

The Senate must now pass the bill before it lands on the desk of Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) for his signature.

the state’s legislative session ends May 13, giving lawmakers a generous window of time

The good news is that the state’s legislative session ends May 13, giving lawmakers a generous window of time to iron out differences before sending the bill to the governor this spring. As News-Leader posits, the not-so-reassuring news is that the bill “will face strong challenges amidst many other upper house priorities.”

Under the bill, each eligible casino gets one and up to three sports betting skins for retail and online, respectively. Skin operators, some of whom own multiple casinos, would be limited to a maximum of six skins online. Franchises will each receive an online skin and can partner for sports betting. In total, up to 39 online skins will be available.

The biggest sticking point is taxes.

The 8% tax on gross gaming revenue (GGR) is lower than what franchises and casinos had initially wanted. It is also well below some tax rates announced at Missouri House Select Committee hearings.

To offset the 8% tax rate, lawmakers added an amendment that raises the license fee from $100,000 to $150,000. The annual license renewal fee has been changed from $50,000 to $125,000. In addition, sports betting operators will benefit from a five-year grace period during which they can deduct promotional bets from their taxable income base.

Key to cooperation between the House, the Senate

According to Action Networkbills similar to HB 2502 that are pending in the Senate would license state lottery retailers and gaming revenue would be taxed at a much higher rate of 21%.

This disparity, says Action Networkmeans it’s likely the Missouri House and Senate “will have to strike a conference committee to bridge the gap between their bills” so Governor Parson can even pick up a pen and sign sports betting into law of State.

According to a tax analysis for Missouri, annual wagers under HB Bill 2502 would return approximately $150 million.

Anne G. Cash