A new bill in Missouri calls for the legalization of online and retail sports betting. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Fresh attempt to legalize betting
In the first filing of betting legislation for the US’ 2022 legislative session, Missouri lawmakers have introduced a bill that would legalize online and retail sportsbooks across the state.
would tether sportsbooks to riverboat casinos in the state
House Bill 1666, filed at the end of last week by Republican Representative Phil Christofanelli, would tether sportsbooks to riverboat casinos in the state. It is very similar to a bill that Senator Majority Leader Cal Rowden previously filed.
Lawmakers in Missouri have considered sports betting legalization on many occasions since the ending of the federal ban on the activity in May 2018. During the 2021 legislative session, state officials filed ten different bills relating to sports betting.
Details of HB1666
HB1666 proposes a sports betting tax rate of 6.75%, as well as a provision that allows sporting governing bodies to request a ban on certain types of wagering. The application fee for a sports betting license is set at $50,000, with renewals priced at $40,000 annually.
The legislation would place the Missouri Gaming Commission in charge of regulating the sector. Riverboat casinos would get facility licenses, with online sports betting operators then partnering with one of these facilities and applying to get an interactive sports platform license.
Missouri operators can now locate riverboat casinos on land, as long as they are within 1,000 feet of the Mississippi River or the Missouri River. However, a state-wide license cap only allows for up to 13 of these casinos.
Other bills on the way
It is expected that many other sports betting bills are on their way during this new legislative session. The official 2022 session in Missouri begins on January 5, 2022. The session’s pre-filing period for bills began on December 1, however.
Missouri lawmakers have differed in their opinions of what legal sports betting should look like in the state. Some legislators have also advocated for video lottery terminals (VLTs) to become legal at the same time as sports betting.
Three states neighboring Missouri have made online sports betting legal – Tennessee, Iowa, and Illinois.
Representative Dan Shaul plans to file a bill later in December relating to both sports betting and VLTs. He estimates that annual tax revenue from both could reach $400m. Shaul believes that it makes sense to address both of these activities at the same time, arguing: “Right now we are the wild wild west and people are doing their own thing. It’s time that we as legislators need to step up and do something.”
Professional sports teams in favor
Professional sports teams in Missouri have already indicated their support for legal sports wagering. Numerous betting initiatives have received the backing of the St. Louis Blues (NHL), St. Louis Cardinals (MLB), Kansas City Royals (MLB), and the St. Louis City Soccer Club (MLS).
sports betting will boost fan engagement
These teams issued a joint statement in November outlining their belief that legal sports betting will boost fan engagement and help people increase the enjoyment of sporting experiences. The teams also believe that the state can benefit from significant tax revenue by legalizing the activity.