Missouri Legislators Try Again for Legal Sports Betting

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Missouri Legislators Try Again for Legal Sports Betting

Feel free to add Missouri to the growing list of states set to consider sports betting legislation in the 2019 legislative-season. Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Nevada and West Virginia have already begun their sports betting operations, and many other states are queueing-up to become among the next gaggle-of-states to begin accepting legal sports wagers. Missouri is no different.

If you don’t at first succeed; try again

Missouri has been quite keen on passing sports betting legislation for awhile now, however, the original sports betting push by State Representative Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, did not pass either the House or Senate. However, it now appears that State Legislators have decided en masse to take another swing at legalizing sports betting in the Show-Me state.

State Republican Senator Denny Hoskins announced that projections show that fully legalized sports betting could potentially raise somewhere in the range of between $18 million and $40 million annually to fill the state’s revenue coffers.

Importantly, while Missouri State Governor Mike Parson isn’t officially on record as supporting a call for legal sports betting in Missouri, he’s not made any statements vehemently against the idea either.

As a result, Missouri State Legislators are planning now to make another attempt at legalizing sports betting just 7 months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal law that had previously restricted U.S. states from allowing bets on sports. Other than the states where sports wagering is already legal, Missouri is one of the eleven states that is currently pushing forward with sports betting legislation. With the renewed legalization attempt, Missouri is joining other states like Kansas, South Carolina,Massachusetts, California and Michigan as progressively minded states which are also looking to capitalize on legalized sports betting with the huge potential increases possible in state revenues.

Expect Sports Betting to Be on the 2019 Missouri Legislative Agenda

“I certainly anticipate it being out there (in 2019) for discussion before the House and the Senate,” Representative Plocher said.

Representative Plocher sponsored legislation last spring that failed to advance in either legislative chamber. Multiple drafts of legislation became public knowledge even before the U.S. Supreme Court decision in May 2018 that overturned the law banning states from offering single-team, Vegas-style sports betting. Back then, the sticking point as to why the legislation did not pass on the first attempt, was the so-called ‘integrity-fee’ to the professional sports leagues.

Professional leagues agree to lowering the proposed integrity fee

As a critical part of the determination of Missouri State Legislators to give legal sports betting a renewed legislative push is that the professional sports leagues are now asking for what they call a ‘royalty payment’ at a substantially reduced rate.

Representative Plocher, for one, isn’t opposed to paying the leagues, and is on the record as saying that the key to legalization will be finding a “sweet spot” for the integrity fee. In other words, an agreed amount that will make both the casinos and the pro leagues happy. Missouri has 13 land-based casinos also keen to receive a piece of the lucrative-sports-betting-pie.

A proposal calling for a one percent integrity fee across all sports betting revenue in the Show-Me state has importantly received support from one of Missouri’s favorite sporting franchises, the St. Louis Cardinals.

On the other hand, most casino operators will not be looking, nor happy to pay an integrity fee to the leagues. However, Representative Plocher believes that an integrity fee should be part of the proposed bill but the key is negotiating a number that both sides can agree to as a win-win scenario.