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Missouri Sports Betting And Slots Bill Proposes Legalization And Regulation

James Chittick

Last week, House Bill 2835 was introduced by Rep. Crystal Quade and seeks to legalize both Missouri sports betting and slots in the state.

Missouri is one of several states that are trying to legalize sports betting. In neighboring states, the practice has already been legal for some time.

Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas have all legalized sports betting. Oklahoma is the only state bordering Missouri that doesn’t allow some form of legal sports betting.

Lawmakers have been trying to agree on how to legalize sports betting in Missouri for some time. But another issue that has arisen is the spread of illegal slot machines.

Such machines operate without paying taxes, or providing any player protection methods. Missouri legislators are trying to change this, something reflected by this latest bill.

There are currently four bills in the Senate, and another four in the House, all looking at legalization of sports betting and slots.

And this latest, two-in-one proposal was filed with the state House last Tuesday. House Bill 2835 (HB 2835) calls for the full legalization of sports betting, to be regulated by the Missouri Gaming Commission.

The Commission would oversee licenses and taxes, helping to provide a revenue boost to the state.

But despite the positive progress, this isn’t the first time Missouri has tried to legalize sports betting. There have been numerous bills that stumbled before the finish line in recent years.

Missouri Sports Betting Legalization Timeline

2024

House Bill 2835 is filed, seeking to legalize both sports betting and slots in Missouri.

2023

Several sports betting bills were introduced in 2023, but failed upon reaching the Senate. Issues arose with Sen. Denny Hoskins wanting sports betting tied to regulatory language around video lottery terminals.

Despite a coalition of professional sports teams, casinos and national operators backing the bill, Sen. Hoskins’ obstruction prevented the bill from passing.

2022

A proposal backed by the state’s sports teams, casinos and national sportsbooks gathered steam. It advanced from the House to the Senate floor, but was filibustered by the author of a competing bill.

Alternate proposals were presented, but casinos disagreed with the compromises. The Senate then adjourned for a year, with no action taken on any sports betting bill.

2021

Attempts to legalize Missouri sports betting gained little traction in 2021, with a bill failing without support from casinos.

2020

Despite progress made in previous years, six new bills were introduced in 2020. All of them had the same issues as old bills, and hit stumbling blocks over lottery terminals among other problems.

2019

A Missouri sports betting bill was passed by the House General Laws Committee. Ideal for sports leagues, it would have provided an official league data mandate, as well as a 0.25% integrity fee and an additional 0.6% to fund maintenance of Missouri sports facilities.

In October 2019, a Special Interim Committee convened to establish what the bill would need in order for sportsbook operators in the state to provide a competitive product.

The committee found that sportsbooks wanted MO sports betting without in-person registration, no limits on markets or teams, and no integrity fees or official league data mandate.

This conflict of wishes meant the bill was doomed to fail once again.

2018

The first MO sports betting bills appeared in 2018, but despite significant interest, there was little agreement between the various stakeholders.

Missouri legislators introduced six sports betting bills in preparation for the US Supreme Court’s overturning of PASPA.

Each bill directed the Missouri Gaming Commission to legalize sports betting if federal restrictions were removed.

Aside from sports betting, this latest proposal also advocated the legalization of slot machines. Although HB 2835 would legalize such machines statewide, individual counties will still be able to choose wether to permit them.

The bill from Rep. Quade would seek to legalise slots, impose taxes on the machines and regulate them to ensure fair competition.

Businesses offering slot machines would need to keep them away from areas with children, and will be limited to five machines per business. If the proposal goes through, it will generate an estimated $500 million in tax revenue.

Rep. Quade recently told KY3 in an interview that she has heard concerns from across the state regarding the spread of illegal slot machines.

She said: “No matter where you go, whether it’s a gas station or walking through your neighborhood, they are everywhere. It’s quite a problem.”

And with these unregulated machines a growing issue, Rep. Quade believes now is the time for lawmakers to act.

By legalizing and regulating the practice, her proposal will seek to benefit state programs such as public safety and education by providing a significant boost in taxes.

James Chittick
James Chittick