Missouri Online, Retail Sports Betting Bill HB 2502 Clears House in 115-33 Vote

  • The bill is welcome news for the state’s 13 licensed casino operators and pro sports franchises
  • HB 2502’s sponsor said Thursday’s session was “the first time we got everybody to the table”
  • The state Senate must now pass the bill to get it to the desk of Governo Parson
  • The 8% tax on GGR is lower than what pro franchises and casinos had first wanted
  • It is likely that the House and Senate “will need to form a conference committee” for bills to jibe
A Kansas City Chiefs fan in a Santa suit
Finally for Missouri bettors, a sports betting bill has cleared the House, but it still likely requires cooperation with the Senate to get it across the line. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Pro, college sports betting approved

The Missouri House of Representatives has approved sports betting bill HB 2502. The House voted 115-33 on Thursday in favor of the bill that seeks to legalize in-person and online wagering on professional and collegiate sports in Missouri.

Gaming law and sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach shared news Friday of the bill’s passage via Twitter:

The outcome is welcome news for Missourian bettors and the state’s 13 licensed casino operators. It will also delight Missouri’s major league franchises — which include the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, and the MLS’s St. Louis City SC — who have all backed the legislation.

It’s also welcome news in terms of traction, as the first sports betting bill dates back to 2018. Ever since, no bill has gotten to a full House vote. The Springfield News-Leader quotes the bill’s sponsor, Representative Dan Houx (R), as saying Thursday’s session was “the first time we got everybody to the table” on the issue.

Senate a potential sticking point

The Senate must now pass the bill before it lands on the desk of Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) for his signature.

state’s legislative session ends May 13, giving lawmakers a generous window of time

The good news is the state’s legislative session ends May 13, giving lawmakers a generous window of time to iron out any differences ahead of getting the bill to the Governor this spring. As News-Leader posits, the not-so-reassuring news is that the bill “will face tough odds amid numerous other priorities in the higher chamber.”

Under the bill, every eligible casino gets one and up to three sports betting skins for retail and online, respectively. The skins’ operators, some who own multiple casinos, would get capped at a maximum of six online skins. Franchises will get one online skin each and can partner with sportsbooks. In total, up to 39 online skins will be available.

The biggest sticking point is taxes.

The 8% tax on gross gaming revenue (GGR) is lower than what franchises and casinos had first wanted. It’s also much lower than certain tax rates floated during Missouri House Special Committee hearings.

In order to offset the 8% tax rate, lawmakers added an amendment that raises license fees from $100,000 to $150,000. Annual license renewal fees got amended up from $50,000 to $125,000. In addition, sports wagering operators will get a five-year grace period during which they can deduct promotional wagers from their taxable revenue base.

Cooperation key between House, Senate

According to Action Network, similar bills to HB 2502 that are pending in the Senate would give licenses to state lottery retailers and gaming revenue would be taxed at a much higher 21% rate.

This disparity, says Action Network, means it’s likely Missouri’s House and Senate “will need to form a conference committee to close the gap between their bills” in order for Gov. Parson to even pick up a pen and sign sports betting into state law.

According to a fiscal analysis for Missouri, annual wagers under bill HB 2502 would rake in around $150m.