Missouri Sports Betting Legislation Introduced by Lawmaker
Details are now in place for a Missouri sports betting legalization bill. One of the major details will likely draw ire from multiple gambling stakeholders.
State. Sen. Denny Hoskins filed a bill earlier this week that includes what he calls an “Entertainment Facilities Infrastructure Fund.” It implements a 0.5 percent fee on total gross dollars wagered.
This is a twist on what industry observers have called an “integrity fee.” Instead of granting a cut of gambling revenues to the professional sports leagues, Hoskins’ bill would instead reallocate a portion of revenue back toward stadium enhancements in the Show Me State.
Aside from stadium purveyors, this fee inclusion is not likely to earn many supporters.
The fee doesn’t compensate the leagues directly, which they have lobbied for since even before the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting. Leagues argued they needed a portion of gambling proceeds to protect from corruption, an appeal dismissed by nearly all lawmakers across the country and later dropped by the sports organizations.
With little traction for the “integrity” pitch, leagues have now argued for compensation in exchange for use of officially sanctioned league data. The current bill doesn’t give money back for league data, so they’ll likely push legislators to amend it in their favor.
Fellow lawmakers will likely make a change – if the bill survives at all. While the fees will help Show Me State stadiums, it takes possible taxable revenue away from other government programs. Industry observers believe this bill will gain little support in Jefferson City in its current form.
Other Bills Circulate in Missouri
Though Hoskins bill may struggle in the statehouse, there are other options lawmakers may find more amenable.
State Rep. Dean Plocher told Missouri media outlets that legislators are discussing several different versions of a sports betting legalization bill. Though similar bills failed in the legislature earlier this year, the successful passage of bills in other states may bolster prospects for next year.
Any bill will feature obstacles. Gov. Mike Parson has not embraced gambling and while he reportedly doesn’t want to obstruct legalization, he may still present a hurdle.
Other gambling stakeholders will also likely play a role. The state features a multi-billion dollar lottery as well as a contingent of casinos. These parties will likely influence discussions in 2019.
High-profile professional sports teams like MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals may also voice their perspectives, perhaps in support of Hoskins’ stadium-enhancing deal or against it in favor of a bill that reallocates money directly to sports leagues.
While multiple high-profile Missouri entities will influence discussion, actions across the state border will also play a factor.
Sports Betting Poised to Arrive in Midwest
Sports betting conversations in Missouri are far from unique in the region.
After multiple states in the Mid-Atlantic passed legalization bills, the Midwest seems poised to follow. Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are among a growing group of states considering sports betting legalization sometime in the coming year.
Missouri will likely be surrounded by states with similar aims. Aside from Nebraska, every Missouri neighbor has introduced a sports wagering bill or announced plans to do so. That includes Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
The Show Me State’s southern neighbor is already ahead of the game. Arkansas voters approved legal sports betting at the state’s gaming facilities and will likely take its first wager sometime next year.
In 2019 Missouri residents won’t be far from a legal local to place a sports bet. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to do it without crossing state lines, but the first introduction of a bill – even a contentious one – underscores the momentum in the state and the region overall.
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