Missouri sports betting efforts have failed in each state legislative session since the US Supreme Court in 2018 repealed the sports gambling federal ban and gave such powers to individual states. Four years later, Missouri is only now moving closer to joining the more than 30 other states in legalizing sports wagering.
Thirty-two states have passed laws authorizing sports betting. Five share borders with Missouri — Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Nebraska.
House Bill 2502 would bring Missouri into the legal sports betting market. The legislation was authored by Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg).
HB 2502 passed the Missouri House of Representatives in March. The lower chamber signed off on the gaming expansion statute by an overwhelming 115-33 vote.
The Senate Governmental Affairs and Fiscal Oversight Committee yesterday approved the sports betting bill and advanced the statute to the full Senate floor. The legislation will be read and debated as early as this week.
HB 2502 would allow Missouri’s 13 riverboat casinos to incorporate sportsbooks into their facilities. The legislation would additionally allow the casinos to operate mobile sports betting for gamblers who are physically located within the state.
The latest version of HB 2502 passed by the Senate committee suggests an 8% tax on sports betting revenue. Unlike in most other states that have retail and mobile sports betting and tax each wagering avenue differently — with mobile revenue typically higher — Missouri’s sports betting bill currently levies the same 8% tax.
The first $500,000 in tax revenue generated from sports betting would be allocated to the Missouri Compulsive Gamblers Fund. The remaining money would be set aside for public education.
Houx celebrated HB 2502’s progression to the full Senate full. The Republican lawmaker says Missouri cannot be last to the sports betting game, and added that the state is already missing out on substantial tax revenue.
With legal betting remaining prohibited in Missouri, many state residents have made the drive into a neighboring state that offers regulated online sports betting. Four of the neighboring sports betting states allow internet sports wagering — Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
Houx said that during the February Super Bowl, there were 3.9 million bets placed within 10 miles of the Missouri border in those four states. His sports betting bill would allow for wagering on professional and collegiate sports, including games involving Missouri-based universities and colleges.
Higher Tax Focus of Debate
Some of Houx’s legislative colleagues in Jefferson City have said that an 8% sports betting tax is far too low. State fiscal estimates project that legal sports betting at such a rate would only generate about $10 million a year in new tax revenue.
Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) told the Columbia Missourian this week that he believes the state should spend around $4 million to $5 million annually to adequately address compulsive gambling. Currently, Missouri dedicates only $250,000 a year from casino taxes to problem gambling programs.
Houx clarified that he is open to a higher sports betting tax. His original version of HB 2502 called for a 10% tax, but that rate was dropped two points amid House discussions.
Of the 32 states that have legalized sports betting, the median tax rate — inclusive of retail and mobile — is around 19%. The highest are New York and Rhode Island at 51%. The lowest are Nevada and Iowa at 6.75%.
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