With recent rumblings in both the House and Senate, legislators are holding onto hope for the 2022 authorization of Missouri sports betting. On Tuesday, three measures will come before the House Committee on Public Policy.
If the group chooses to approve any of the sports betting bills, the measure would move forward for Senate approval and then that of the Governor.
No Bettor Time Than Now
The timing for this committee hearing is ideal. Earlier this year, Missouri’s professional sports teams and casinos agreed to team up in a lobbying effort for legal betting options.
And after missing out on Super Bowl betting, residents and business owners are both reeling for a chance to get in on the action ahead of the NFL season start.
All three of the bills up for consideration aim to allocate tax revenues from betting towards Missouri’s public education system. K-12 schooling and academics have become key issues in recent years as budgets have dwindled amid increased learning costs.
In 2020, Missouri ranked next-to-last for K-12 funding when compared to the rest of the U.S. According to a state auditor, only 32% of the state’s per-student funding comes from the government budget.
Sportsbooks Supplement State Spending
The money to cover the other 68% of student learning costs is generated through local funding. And that doesn’t mean PTA bake sales and car washes. For Missouri residents, most of this funding has come from increased property taxes.
For reference, the state spent a meager $6375 per student in 2020. Meanwhile, the cost per student in the Kansas City Public School system cleared nearly $14,000 that same year.
The sports betting bills slated for Tuesday’s hearing leverage that point by promising up to $15 million in annual funding. But in-person and mobile sportsbook solutions won’t be the end-all-be-all for the education crisis in Missouri.
To meet the weak $6375 price point for per-student costs, the state already spends $5.8 billion. Repairing the state’s broken school system will take more than some chump change from sportsbooks.
Still, an extra $15 million in funding is a great start for legislators who have yet to come up with a solution to this growing issue.
Some of the state’s most prominent legislators believe that sports betting approval will go off without a hitch. However, these figures would be wise to move with care on this issue.
Obstacles Ahead For Legal Betting
Missouri’s legislative body reviewed and dismissed nine sports betting bills in 2021. Representatives from both sides of the aisle have come out in opposition to such measures.
For these folks, the crackdown on illegal gambling is more important than the influx of new tax dollars.
But sportsbook lobbyists are ready to defend on Tuesday. The most vocal among them has been John Pappas, executive director of the iDevelopment and Economic Association.
“Every year that Missouri is waiting is another day that consumers are left unprotected and money is left on the table… It just doesn’t make sense to be on an island when literally every state surrounding them is going to have legal sports betting.”
Bettors in Missouri can still bet on their favorite teams ahead of March Madness using offshore sportsbook sites. For more information, stick around and browse the tabs in our ribbon above.
Even if you decide not to bet, you’ll know all the ins and out of the industry.
And who doesn’t benefit from a bit of learning?
Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, NPR Kansas City