With neighboring Kansas full speed ahead on sports betting, Missouri lawmakers are still working on a deal.
Rep. Dan Houx told LSR Wednesday that lawmakers are still working on MO sports betting language as the legislative session nears its May 13 deadline. A compromise between the House and Senate will be critical, as Sen. Denny Hoskins filibustered Houx’s HB 2502 last week on the Senate floor over video lottery terminals.
“I’m always optimistic and try to be optimistic, but I think the chances are pretty slim right now,” Hoskins said during a press conference last week.
Missouri sports betting dilemma
Hoskins authored a rival sports betting bill earlier this session. Hoskins offered an adversarial approach to competing sports betting bills during committee hearings.
Houx’s bill was one of several backed by the state’s casino operators, sports teams and national sportsbook operators. After Houx’s bill cleared the House and a Senate committee, Hoskins submitted a substitute bill that included language legalizing VLTs.
VLTs are essentially slot machines and have derailed Missouri sports betting legislation in the past. Casino operators backing the proposal in Houx’s bill are not fans of legalizing the gaming machines often located in truck stops, and fraternal and veterans’ organizations.
Hoskins pushes Missouri sports betting taxes
Hoskins’ bill included a 21% tax rate on sports betting revenue, in line with casino tax rates. Houx’s bill carries a 10% tax.
Hoskins believes the difference could be worth $153 million for the state.
With that number in mind, Hoskins said he has 153 amendments ready if VLTs are not added to help make up the revenue difference.
Missouri sports betting compromise
With tax rate and VLTs standing as the main obstacles, a compromise will likely consist of some parts from both Houx’s bill and Hoskins’ SB 643 or SB 642, which addressed VLTs separately.
“If it was an easy answer, we would have done it already,” Sen. Dan Hegeman said at the press conference.
Houx’s bill creates 13 retail sportsbooks at the state’s casinos while allocating 39 online skins to casino operators and professional sports teams. SB 643 legalizes retail MO sports betting at casinos, provides them each with an online skin and allows lottery retailers to offer parlay bets.
Hoskins also created the separate VLT legislation, SB 642, which did not move on its own.
Kansas rolling forward
Earlier this year, it appeared as though sports betting would succeed or fail in both Missouri and Kansas. Proponents in both states talked about the importance of beating their neighbor to legal sports betting.
While Kansas lawmakers also had difficulties, the bill passed both legislative chambers last week and awaits a signature from Gov. Laura Kelly.
With roughly a week to go in Missouri’s session, the countdown is on to see if the Show-Me State is up for a race to launch sports betting.
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