With only four days left before the legislative chambers adjourn this year’s session, Missouri lawmakers are scrambling to pass HB2502. The bill aims to authorize legal Missouri sports betting across digital and in-person platforms.
Senate Deliberates MO Sports Betting
Despite passing through the House with flying colors back in March, the state sports betting bill has fallen into some trouble since being taken on by the Senate. In April, lawmakers amended the legislation to include provisions for legal video lottery terminals.
These kiosks, often found at gas stations and truck stops, host digital slot-style games. In most states, these “gray-machines” fall into an odd legal limbo. Without codified language to penalize or legalize the use of such machines, operators continue to host these games under the table.
A few members of the Senate wanted to give these terminals official authorization under HB2502 and amended the bill to do so.
They hoped that such legislation would supplement the unique 10% tax rate for sportsbook operators, providing up to $153 million in additional state gambling revenues.
In a comment, bill sponsor Sen. Denny Hoskins said the following:
“The current tax rate on gambling in Missouri is 21%, was approved by voters at 21%, and provides a significant amount of funding for our public schools. I don’t see why sports wagering should be treated differently…”
The move was intended to be a compromise, allowing sportsbooks to keep a greater share without having to take a loss on state revenues.
Unfortunately, Hoskins’ idea has backfired tremendously.
Unexpected Obstacles Arise For Lawmakers
Now looking at two competing bills—HB2502 and SB643—lawmakers have even more to consider and far less time to do so.
This is not the first time that this has happened. In years past, the issue of video lottery terminals has obstructed the passage of such US sports betting laws. But with Chiefs relocation rumors, holding off on a sportsbook package could prove to be disastrous.
Sen. Denny Hoskins has played an aggressive role throughout the legislative session, urging colleagues to pass his video-lottery bill or risk missing out on another year of sports betting altogether.
But this approach stands to cause more harm than good, pushing Senate members into a corner. Then again, legislation is harder to amend once it becomes law. It is easy to see why Hoskins is clinging to his proposed tax structure.
State-Licensed Or Not, You’ve Got Options
Some political analysts think that the Senate can negotiate a compromise, a healthy middle ground of sorts. The main issues of contention are tax rates, skin fees, and parlays through the lottery. But with only 4 days to authorize the bill, the odds are incredibly slim.
Still, the race to legalize sports betting will certainly be one to watch.
In the case that Missouri doesn’t pass sports betting legislation this year, bettors can still place their wagers using legal offshore online sportsbooks.
For more information on getting started, head over to our betting how-to guides in the ribbon above!
Source: News-Press Now