The Missouri House granted preliminary approval to a plan to legalize Missouri sports betting Wednesday.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Representative Dan Houx, who has helped sponsor the bill. The plan now only needs to pass a vote in the House’s lower chamber to officially earn house approval.
Momentum has been building for Missouri sports betting since the state’s professional sports teams bonded together to push for sportsbooks in each team’s grounds, and much of the progress since then has been attributed to this union.
Missouri sports betting imminent?
The new Missouri sports betting plan calls for an 8% tax on wagers, which would create $10 million annually, per House financial analysts.
Details of the bill reveal that each of the state’s 13 casinos would have new sports betting windows that would allow patrons to risk their money on a multitude of events. State residents would also be allowed to place mobile bets with regulated sportsbooks.
“We are very pleased to see the progress with the proposed sports gaming bill in the Missouri House today,” St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said.
DeWitt was the driving force in the professional teams’ pact and has been outspoken on the issue for a long time, but has turned up the heat in 2022. He was ultimately the reason that January’s agreement between the teams had such a large impact in such a short time.
Supporters of the bill are excited that state residents will not have to travel out of the state’s confines to place bets in legalized areas, such as Illinois, or resort to illegally placing wagers with underground bookies.
“Missourians are [still betting] right now, and we’re not getting the benefit,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore John Wiemann, who condemned the current restrictions on Missouri sports betting.
Turning the corner
Sports gambling was illegal until a 2018 court decision overturned a previous ruling and opened the door to states legalizing; but while 33 states have already passed legislation that allows sports betting, Missouri dragged its feet.
Disagreements over how to get rid of illegal slot machines and black-market betting operations were seen as more important conflicts with required resolutions before a new gambling market would be welcomed.
This could still prove to be a roadblock when the bill advances to the Senate, as Senate president Dave Schatz has been one of the preeminent voices in the eradication of slot machines.
Despite the potential stumbling block, DeWitt remained optimistic over the future of the plan.
“[We] remain hopeful and cautiously optimistic for continued progress in the House and also in the Missouri Senate, and we look forward to continuing our ongoing efforts to work closely with the Missouri legislators to pass sports wagering legislation during this session,” said DeWitt.
Legislators notably added an amendment to the original plan that called for a study on addictive gambling habits— this information would then be used to determine how much money needed to be allocated to betting rehab programs.
The Missouri Senate will be in session until May 13, giving them plenty of time to review and refine the inner workings of the Missouri sports betting bill, provided it officially passes through the House.
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