Three Missouri Senators hope to legalize sports betting in the state

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -Some Missouri Republican lawmakers want to legalize sports betting in the state.

The 2021 legislative session starts at the Capitol in just a few weeks and three senators filed a similar bill to legalize sports betting, something nearly all of Missouri’s surrounding states have already done.

The senators said legalizing sports betting could bring nearly $50 million to the state in revenue which would go towards education.

“What I’ve seen and what I’ve talked to many Missourians about is many of them are either number one, using an illegal app to currently make those bets on different professional sports teams or they are literally driving across the state line,” one of the bill sponsors Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrenburg) said.

Twenty-six states have already legalized sports betting, and Hoskins said Missouri is ready to be on that list.

Hoskins pre-filed SB 18 in early December to allow sports betting in the state.

“I believe if you want to make a bet on the Kansas City Chiefs or St. Louis Cardinals or Kansas City Royals or St. Louis Blues or even the MU football or basketball team, that you should be able to place that bet,” Hoskins said. “My bill would simply allow sports betting and sportsbook here in the state either at a casino or either online on your phone using an app like William Hill.”

Hoskins said according to the Missouri Constitution, all gaming money must go towards education.

“Under my bill, it has a nine percent tax in order for those casinos or sportsbook companies to pay a nine percent tax on the difference of what the bets they brought in,” Hoskins said. “There are some other fees and application fees. Most of those fees would cover the charges and administrative fees for the Missouri Gaming Commission to regulate sportsbooks here in the state.”

The bill would allow for sports betting inside casinos and online, but he’s not the only one hoping to legalize sports betting in the state.

“A lot of people that want to legally bet on sporting events are now leaving the state which means there’s revenue leaving Missouri that would ordinarily go to education to help support our schools,” Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) said.

Luetkemeyer filed a similar bill, SB 217, but with some added protection.

“We want to make sure that any casinos or any other licensees that are doing lawful sports betting, that they are using the same data for person to person from casino to casino so there’s not inconsistency in the way that these bets are being awarded,” Luetkemeyer said.

Legalizing sports betting could prevent a tax hike Luetkemeyer said.

“We’re going to be entering a budgetary year where things may be a little uncertain because of COVID and the impact that’s going to have on the state budget, and obviously Medicaid expansion passed on the ballot earlier this year,” Luetkemeyer said. “I think the state is going to be looking at ways to increase revenue without raising taxes.”

This isn’t the first time this conversation has come up in the Capitol. Similar bills have been proposed in years past but never approved.

“I would foresee taking some bits and pieces out of all three bills and making that into a comprehensive sportsbook bill,” Hoskins said.

“We want to make sure people, if they are placing a bet, to do it legitimately in the state, they are doing it safely so that their money is protected and that is being appropriately by the gaming commission,” Luetkemeyer said.

The third sports betting bill is being sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, SB 256.

All three bills require operators to pay an application fee, a percent tax rate on the money they bring in on better, and a licensing fee.

Hoskins’ bill requires operators to pay a $25,000 application fee, a nine percent tax rate, and a $50,0000 annual licensing fee.

Under SB 18, the Missouri Gaming Commission would receive $10,000 from license holders every five years.

Luetkemeyer’s bill says operators must pay $10,000 for an application fee, a 6.25 percent tax, a $5,000 annual fee with a $10,000 for the commission every five years.

Rowden’s legislation requires operators to pay $50,000 in application fees, a 6.5 percent tax, and $20,0000 annual operation fee.

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