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Missouri Governor Brushes Off Latest Sports Betting Push

Missouri Governor Brushes Off Latest Sports Betting Push article feature image
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Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images. Pictured: Missouri State Capitol.

Despite their best efforts, Missouri lawmakers are unlikely to legalize sports betting until at least next year.

On Monday, a House committee took up a bill that would legalize up to 39 online sportsbooks across the state. But a spokesperson for Gov. Mike Parsons (R) says sports betting has nothing to do with the reason they’re back in Jefferson City.

“I do not anticipate sports betting being a part of special session,” Parson’s spokesperson, Kelli Jones, told the St. Louis Dispatch.

Parsons, who called the special session earlier this month to deliver tax relief, has final say over what passes in the session, a source in the legislature told the Action Network.

The sports betting bill discussed on Monday is nearly identical to one that passed the House in March, but faltered in the Senate before Missouri’s regular session ended in May.

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Strong Appetite for Sports Betting

Missourians are clamoring for legal sports betting, according to geolocation service-provider GeoComply.

The service, used by apps like FanDuel and DraftKings, says it blocked over 340,000 log-in attempts from Missourians when neighbor-state Kansas went live with sports betting earlier this month.

That’s about 11% of Missouri’s adult population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

All Eyes on 2023

While Monday’s meeting is likely the last time they’ll consider it in 2022, sports betting should be fresh on lawmakers’ minds when they start their regular session in January.

But they’ll once again have to navigate competing state gaming interests.

Some lawmakers, like Sen. Denny Hoskins, want to tie sports betting into legislation that legalizes video lottery terminals. Others in the Senate want a higher tax than the House’s proposed 10% rate.

Casinos have staunchly opposed VLTs, which could cut into their business. Hoskins, who filibustered sports betting beyond Senate consideration last year, has blamed them for prolonging legal wagering.

Hoskins has since signaled a willingness to pass sports betting on its own, but that’s contingent on advancing a standalone VLT bill.

Rep. Dan Houx, who has spearheaded efforts in the House, has been open to upping tax rates in the past, though the bill he pushed on Monday did not reflect that.

He and Houx are likely to pre-file bills for next year in December, the earliest they may do so.

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