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Committee considers Missouri sports betting bills

Committee considers Missouri sports betting bills

After unsuccessful attempts to pass sports betting legislation during the last two sessions, Missouri lawmakers are getting serious about pushing a wagering measure into the end zone.

At the end of February, two bills that would bring betting to the Show Me State came before the state House Committee on Government Oversight. Though lawmakers have a singular goal, there is still much to negotiate before wannabe bettors can lay money on the St. Louis Blues or Cardinals or the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Two bills, one proposed by Rep. Cody Smith R-Carthage, the other by Rep. Phil Christofanelli R-St. Peters, have in common that both would allow online and retail sports betting with similar regulations. But, after that the bills take different paths.

Smith’s bill has support of the professional leagues because it would allow use of official league data for in-game prop bets. Christofanelli’s bill is liked by casinos because it would allow

Jeremy Kudon, a lobbyist who represents the MLB, NBA and the PGA Tour, appeared at the committee hearing said Rep. Smith’s bill would ensure the integrity of sporting contests. On the other side of the coin, Kudon called Rep Christofanelli’s bill a “love letter to casinos,” according to the Joplin Globe.

Also at the hearing were lobbyists support Smith’s bill were lobbyists representing the Blues, Chiefs and Cardinals. The bill does not include a royalty to the leagues for use of their data.

“Data is to sports betting what cards are to blackjack or what that little metal ball is to roulette,” Kudon said. He also said he hopes casinos are open to compromise regarding data.

“As Missouri considers legalizing sports betting in this environment, there is no greater priority for the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL than protecting the games and welfare of our players, our coaches and our fans,” said Rich Aubuchon, lobbyist for the Kansas City Chiefs, according to KCTV, Channel 5.

The Missouri Gaming Association, which represents the state’s casino interests, pointed out that of the 20 states with legal betting, only three are using league data with others using other data providers, such as Sportradar.

“We’d prefer to be able to negotiate those arrangements independently rather than having a statutory mandate,” MGA executive director Mike Winter said, according to the Joplin Globe.

He said he thinks the leagues are trying to create another revenue stream. “They’ve pivoted from the royalty fee to now trying to make the case that league data is necessary,” Winter said.

State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, too, has a bill proposed in hopes of keeping bettors’ money in the Missouri rather than them crossing state lines to bet legally in neighboring Iowa.

“I think it’s really important that we regulate it, so that consumers are protected and they’re not dealing with shady third parties who are not using data approved by the leagues and doesn’t have integrity to it. And then also making sure we’re getting money for our schools,” Luetkemeyer told KCTV.

James Allen  /  March 2nd 2020

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