Missouri sports betting took another step forward this week after two Bills backed by Missouri’s professional sports teams reached a full House on Wednesday.
The Bills, House Bills 2502 and 2556, which would expand gambling to professional and collegiate sports, is the result of a combined effort from the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, St. Louis City soccer club, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, and Sporting Kansas City.
Wednesday’s reading in the House Special Committee on Public Policy ended with a 4-2 vote in favor of the Bills, the likes of which have been shot down for years. Early estimates claim that the proposal would create $96 million in revenue and $10.8 million for local government, based on fees associated with the teams and companies and a 10% tax rate on bets.
Missouri has long dealt with illegal gambling in the form of unregulated slots and games at bars, truck stops, and gas stations, and the state government wanted to rid these before expanding to allow sports gambling; those efforts are not almost dead after Wednesday’s vote.
Breaking Down Missouri Sports Betting
According to the new Bills, Missouri’s 13 casinos could offer legal professional and collegiate sports betting, and stadiums will have the opportunity to partner with regulated sportsbooks to add gambling as a part of the game-day experience.
The newly agreed upon proposal was brought to the center of attention back in January when representatives of Missouri’s major sports teams confirmed their intent to bring sports betting into the state, which would make it the 32nd state (now the 34th) with some form of legal sports betting.
Illinois was the first state in the region to legalize gambling, passing legislation in June 2019 after a 2018 court case overturned a rule that had banned sports betting in every state except for Nevada. Minnesota and Ohio recently made pushes to join the Midwest betting scene, and Missouri’s latest progress towards legalization was only due to come in a matter of time.
Comments and Criticism
The expansion of gambling is likely to raise the number of gambling problems, a number which is expected to rise from 71 people to 213 per year, according to the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s estimates. It costs an average of $1,230 to help treat people with gambling addictions, meaning the new legislation would create a $262,000 hit if the plan is approved.
Representative Scott Cupps, a Republican from Shell Knob and chairman of the House Special Committee on Public Policy, is particularly concerned about the new issues that could arise as a result of the legalization.
“We are getting ready to potentially open up wagering on electronic devices,” said Cupps. “This is something that I think it potentially could become a larger issue. We need to be aware of that, and as a state, we need to be ready to address some of the issues that may arise from it.”
Representative Dan Houx, a Republican from Warrensville, ensured that the new legislation would create a stream of revenue to help those who suffer from gambling addiction.
Despite Cupps’ concerns over addiction issues, he voted “present” during the Bills’ hearing, meaning that he was not in support of either side; or, more likely, he saw the positive potential and drawbacks both for what they were.
Gauging the People
Supporters of the new legislation have pointed to a GeoComply study that tracked the locations of smartphone transfers and found that 69,372 Missourians attempted to place bets over Super Bowl weekend.
None of these attempts went through.
In an attempt to speed up the process, the groups in support of the gambling expansion are holding off from adding video lottery terminals to any proposals.
“To have this legislation stand on its own, with VLTs debated on a separate track, we feel that we have the best chance of getting something done this year,” Cardinals President William DeWitt III said last week.