Missouri Sports Betting Bills Pre-Filed Ahead of 2022 Legislative Session

Posted on: December 6, 2021, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: December 6, 2021, 10:59h.

Missouri lawmakers say it’s long overdue to legalize and regulate sports betting, and they plan to do something about it when the General Assembly convenes in January for its 2022 session.

Missouri sports betting gambling riverboat casino
Missouri Rep. Phil Christofanelli is seen in the state House in March. The Republican says he will fight to bring legalized sports betting to Missouri in 2022. (Image: The Missouri Times)

At least four Republican Missouri legislators say they will introduce legislation to expand gambling in the state to include sports betting. Missouri is home to 13 riverboat casinos.

Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Caldwell), Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Charles), Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Jefferson), and Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Buchanan) have either pre-filed sports gambling bills or say they will introduce such legislation when the legislature convenes on January 5, 2022.

Of the eight states Missouri shares a border with, four have legal sports betting up and running. They are Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Sports betting is also legal in Nebraska, with the first regulated sportsbooks set to open there in the coming weeks.

Significant Tax Revenue

Sports betting in Missouri has been considered every year since the US Supreme Court struck out the federal ban on the gambling format everywhere but Nevada in May of 2018. But the Republican-controlled General Assembly has failed to agree on the regulatory terms that sportsbooks would be governed by in each legislative session.

The next year must bring a different outcome, say the Republicans who plan to lead the effort next month. Speaking recently with NBC5, Shaul explained that Missourians want to gamble on sports, and the state should allow them to do so in a responsible manner that also benefits the state.

Fiscal projections from nonpartisan legislative services suggest that the Show-Me State could be shown roughly $20 million annually in associated sports betting tax money. The Missouri Constitution mandates that all tax receipts from gambling be allocated towards state public education.

Issues in previous legislative sessions that have been blamed for the sports betting holdup include royalty fees for the professional sports leagues and high tax rates that might render the market unattractive for operators.

Christofanelli, one of the sports betting pre-filters, suggests imposing a reasonable 6.75 percent tax on sports betting gross gaming revenue. Licenses would cost just $50,000 upfront, plus $40,000 a year to cover regulatory costs incurred by the Missouri Gaming Commission.

The licensing fees and tax rate would be among the lowest in the country, and would almost certainly attract the industry’s biggest players, such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM.

By comparison, in Indiana, a state with a similar population size to Missouri, the state taxes gross sports betting income at 9.5 percent. Licenses additionally cost $100,000 upfront, and are renewed annually at $50,000.

Path to Sports Betting

Missouri lawmakers cannot legalize sports betting on their own. Instead, after both assembly chambers sign off on a sports gambling statute, a referendum must go before voters asking for their support, too.

If a simple majority of voters back the sports gambling question, the Missouri Constitution is amended to expand gambling to include the activity. Constitutional referendums can only go before voters during even-numbered years.