Missouri Sports Betting Bill Passes House Committee

  • House Bill 2088 will now pass to the House floor to be debated
  • It calls for the legalization of both online and retail sports betting in Missouri
  • The issue will likely have to go to a public vote before legislation is enacted
  • The bill also favors the legalization of video lottery terminals in the state
St Louis, Missouri skyline
A bill calling for legalized sports betting and video lottery terminals in Missouri received approval from the House Special Committee. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A step forward for the state

The Missouri House Special Committee has passed a bill that is looking to legalize sports betting and video lottery terminals in the state. 

The chief sponsor of House Bill 2088 is Missouri Representative Dan Shaul. The next step will be for it to reach the House floor, where the issue will be debated. 

Just like all other major gambling expansion bills in the past in Missouri, there will likely be a public vote before its legislation can be enacted. A previous sports betting legalization bill in the state did not gain much traction in the legislature.

Sports betting aspects of the bill

House Bill 2088 would see online and retail sports betting become legal in the state. Only those gambling facilities that are already operating in the state would be eligible for a sports betting license. A license application fee of $25,000 would be in place if the bill is approved. 

The party in charge of screening applicants and awarding sports betting licenses would be the Missouri Gaming Commission. 

$5.5bn worth of sports bets made each year in the state if the activity is legalized

Facilities that successfully receive a sports betting license would be able to work with a third party to operate the sportsbook. The online sportsbook licenses would have a life period of just 12 months, and a $50,000 annual renewal fee is being proposed. 

According to the testimony given by an MLB representative to the House Special Committee in November 2019, there could be $5.5bn worth of sports bets made each year in the state if the activity is legalized.

The bill also outlines a 9% tax rate on the adjusted gross receipts of sportsbooks. A newly created fund called Gaming Proceeds for Education would serve as the main recipient of tax revenue.

Video lottery terminal proposals

The same bill would also see the allowance of video lottery terminals in Missouri. These licenses would be valid for a four-year period, and the license fee would vary depending on the recipient.

Only people aged at least 21 years old would be permitted to use the terminals. Bars could have a maximum of five such terminals, with the likes of truck stops allowed to have as many as ten in the same location. All terminals would be connected to a centralized computer system created by the state’s Lottery Commission.

Licensing fees for terminals

Manufacturers, distributors, and operators of video lottery terminals would incur an initial maximum license cost of $15,000. The renewal fee would amount to $5,000 at the most. Retailers hosting the units would be required to pay an initial fee of $500 and a further $500 upon renewal.

Finally, handlers would be charged the maximum initial fee of $100, with payment for renewal set at $50. There was no indication in the bill of how video lottery terminal revenues would be taxed.