Missouri Sports Betting Backers in Legislature Fold Their Cards for 2022

Missouri Sports Betting Backers in Legislature Fold Their Cards for 2022
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

It appears a last-ditch effort to get Missouri sports betting across the finish line before the end of 2022 has come up short.

HB 4, which would have legalized retail and mobile sports betting, was officially shelved for the year. Last week, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike Parson’s office said sports betting was “clearly beyond the call” of the current special session.

A representative for Rep. Dan Houx, who introduced the bill earlier this month, told BetMissouri.com in an emailed statement the House’s plans for wagering would have to wait another calendar year.

“I do not anticipate the sports gaming bill being amended on to the Senate "tax cut" bill when/if it comes over from the Senate this week,” Edward Vought, Houx’s spokesperson, told BetMissouri.com on Monday. “I would not be the least bit surprised if the language in the House version of sports gaming isn't tweaked a little over the next couple of months and comes out of the gate fast when the regular session convenes in early January.”

An Unsurprising Outcome for Missouri Sports Betting

The failure of the Missouri legislature to get sports betting in place before the end of 2022 was not a surprise to industry insiders, such as Brandt Iden, a former Michigan legislator who is the head of government affairs for Sportradar.

"This doesn't come as a surprise. Frankly, Missouri tackling the issue of sports betting during a special session was always a Hail Mary for 2022,” Iden told BetMissouri.com. "However, given all the excitement and betting activity in Kansas, this issue is certainly on the minds of legislators, and I am hopeful that once the elections are behind us, we'll have a more productive 2023."

Now, the soonest sports betting in Missouri can be taken up again by the legislature is when the next regular session convenes on Jan. 4, 2023. While Missouri waits, its westerly neighbor clears millions of dollars in wagers by the day.

Kansas, where sports betting went live officially on Sept. 8, saw more than $47 million wagered during the state’s opening 11 days of business. 

“Based off of current views, it appears as though sports betting may not see much more light this session,” said Brendan Bussmann, the managing partner of gaming consultant firm B Global. “In a state that was concerned about wagering on the 'mythical bird,' the Jayhawks are sure enjoying the Tigers' tax revenue.

“All eyes will be on 2023 for the state that has debated sports betting longer than any other state in the union. It’s unfortunate that it has taken this long but let’s hope we can get something done this next year and not be held up by a few members as we were this last cycle. No one said the sausage making is easy, but this is getting a little excessive."

Bipartisan Support for Sports Betting in Missouri

Sports betting appears to be one of the few subjects that transcends political affiliation in Missouri, with legislators from both parties and various state-based organizations speaking out in favor of wagering during a House Emerging Issues Committee hearing Sept. 12.

The Missouri House showed bipartisanship earlier this year when it passed HB 2502 — the regular session’s sports betting bill — by a 115-33 margin before it died in the state’s Senate.

Vought said the governor’s declaration stymies an opportunity to come together to give Missourians something they want and deserve.

Now, the Show Me State will have to wait more than three months for its next crack at wagering, giving residents ample reason to journey west (or east to Illinois) during the fall and winter.

“When someone from 'the other side of the aisle' testifies in committee that when they are door knocking, (sports betting) is the biggest issue they confront, I think there is a lot of bipartisan support across the state (for sports betting), given that the subject could have been inflation, gas prices, the stock market, etc.,” Vought said.

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Christopher Boan is a lead writer for BetMissouri.com, specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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