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Legalized Sports Betting Once Again Takes Centre in Missouri

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The Missouri House has once again begun discussions around legalizing sports betting in the state. Under the spotlight is House Bill 2331, led by Rep. Dan Houx, a Republican from Warrensburg.

This bill is presently being reviewed by the Special Committee on Public Policy. The bill seeks to transform Missouri’s gaming scene by legalizing sports wagering and this is projected to collect around $35 million for education via a 10% tax on bets.

Bill DeWitt III, President of the St. Louis Cardinals, highlighted the potential financial upsides, remarking on the tax revenues Missouri forfeits by not legalizing sports betting. The bill not only aims to capture this lost revenue but also to tackle problem gambling and to bring regulation to the rapidly growing market.

Missouri Pro Sports Teams Campaign for Legalization

At the same time as the legislative efforts, a separate campaign led by Missouri’s top professional sports teams and mobile gaming leaders is gaining traction. The “Winning for Missouri Education” coalition, backed by substantial contributions from FanDuel and DraftKings, is working to gather the necessary 180,000 signatures to bring the issue directly to voters in November.

This movement, which includes teams such as St. Louis Blues and the Kansas City Chiefs, could potentially shift the dynamics from legislative corridors to the hands of the electorate, offering a direct say in the fate of sports betting in Missouri.

Disagreements over Tax Rates

As House Bill 2331 progresses, it faces opposition, particularly over its proposed tax rate. Lobbyist Bob Priddy has voiced concerns, deeming the 10% tax on sports betting revenues too low, especially when contrasted with the 21% tax levied on casinos. Advocates from the other side, including Sean Ostrow representing FanDuel and DraftKings, argue that Missouri is currently missing out on significant revenue, with numerous residents already engaging in mobile betting.

While these discussions continue, the state’s riverboat casinos are poised for a potential expansion of their services to include sports betting. The bill also paves the way for mobile betting, broadening the scope for sports wagering across the state. Meanwhile, another legislative proposal, SB852, spearheaded by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, suggests a higher tax rate of 12% on sportsbooks, adding another layer to the ongoing debate.

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