Sports betting plan heads to Missouri Senate

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EFFERSON CITY — A landmark sports betting proposal advanced to the full Senate Tuesday, but a final plan remains in flux.

On an 8-1 vote, the Senate Appropriations Committee forwarded a House proposal to the floor, where Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, said it would undergo further work.

“It’s still a work in process,” Hegeman said. “I don’t want anybody to think this is the finished product. This is really just to keep the process moving.”

The House plan calls for an 8% tax rate on wagers, down from an earlier rate of 10%.

Hegeman said the tax rate is too low.

“I don’t anticipate that being the finished product,” Hegeman told the Post-Dispatch. “This is a starting point.”

The differences could mean millions of dollars in revenue for the state. At 8%, the state would see an estimated $9 million, compared with $163 million at 21%.

As the measure moves through the Legislature, Missouri’s pro sports teams have formed a coalition with casinos and sports betting platforms to bring Missouri in line with other states that allow people to wager on games.

The effort to join other states in offering sports betting has been stalled in the Missouri Legislature for four years over disagreements on how to rid the state of unregulated, illegal slot machines that have flooded gas stations, truck stops and bars in recent years.

With the backing of the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues and St. Louis City soccer club, the latest plan was approved by the House in March on a 115-33 vote.

The plan calls for the state’s 13 casinos, as well as sports venues such as Busch Stadium, to have betting windows. People also could use their mobile devices to place bets on games through websites and apps such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

Other pro teams that lobbied for the measure include the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Current women’s professional soccer team.

Until a 2018 court case, full-scale sports betting was illegal in all states except Nevada. Some states moved quickly to get sports betting and its tax proceeds on the books. Illinois legalized it in June 2019. Kansas appears poised to join the ranks this year.

Kurt Erickson 

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Author: Ken Sutton