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Missouri Sports Betting

Editor’s note: As of Jan. 18, 2021

Legalized sports betting may appear to be in a holding pattern in Missouri, but with at least two bills in legislative committees, lawmakers heard testimony and held meetings with stakeholders in anticipation of the 2020 session. Yet as the year dragged on someway and somehow the Show-Me State still didn't have legalized sports betting when it had entered 2020 as one of the most likely states to green light the move.

HB119, introduced by Rep. Cody Smith, would have established provisions relating to sports wagering. It had a public hearing in the General Laws Committee and moved to Legislative Oversight in late April 2019

Another bill, HB859 offered by Rep. Robert Ross, also had a public hearing in General Laws where it remains as of March 13, 2019.

Rep. Smith’s law would legalize sports wagering on “vessels on water only.” There are no provisions for mobile betting as it reads currently.

The bill also includes an “integrity fee” that would mandate licensed sportsbooks to pay a fee to professional leagues and college sports. The NFL, NHL and MLB, represented in Missouri by the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals (the NFL’s St. Louis Rams left a few years ago for Los Angeles), have lobbied for these fees in other states, but have been unsuccessful in having them implemented. There is concern integrity fees could sink sports betting.

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In late October 2019, lawmakers held a hearing with sports betting and fantasy sports officials to talk about the pros and cons of having gambling expansion in the Show-Me State.

Lawmakers acknowledge they are losing revenue to people crossing state lines to bet on sports legally and to those betting illegally offshore. What they specifically asked was how to persuade people to bet legally in Missouri.

The fantasy sports reps said brand recognition is key to bringing bettors into the light.

“Offering incentives for people to compete with the offshore market is incredibly important, so promotional play becomes another big piece of that," Stacie Stern, Manager of Government Affairs for FanDuel, told lawmakers in Jefferson City.

Sports betting was expected to be on the front burner when the Legislature convened in January 2020 and still 12 months later is going to be one to watch.

Is sports betting currently legal in the state?

No, but hope springs eternal that 2021 will be the year.

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