It appears the successful launch of sports betting in Kansas has sparked action in Missouri.
The Missouri House of Representatives has moved forward with a bill that would legalize wagering in the state, four months after the state’s previous attempt died in the upper chamber of the legislature.
House Bill 4, which is sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx of Warrensburg, would allow Missouri sports betting at any of the state’s gambling boats, with online licenses also being awarded.
The legislation was introduced into the House on Wednesday, with a first reading in the chamber. Missouri’s current special session, which began Wednesday, is scheduled to run through at least next week.
The text of the bill largely mirrors what House Bill 2502, which tried to legalize wagering during the regular session, included — a 10% tax on wagers and a $50,000 licensing fee on all gambling boat facilities, while mobile sports betting operators would be tabbed a $125,000 fee.
HB 2502 died in the Missouri Senate in May over the bill’s failure to include video lottery terminals. Subsequent attempts to revive the bill toward the end of the session failed.
What Are HB 4’s Chances in 2022?
The prospect of falling further behind their westerly neighbor, while also bleeding sports betting customers to Illinois’ longstanding market, has likely served as a major impetus in getting HB 4 in action, according to Brendan Bussmann, B Global managing partner.
Bussmann said in an email to BetMissouri.com the rollout of mobile and retail sports betting in Kansas has spurred the Show Me State to put up or shut up, when it comes to legalizing wagering post-haste.
“With Kansas now live, Missouri residents in Kansas City are heading west while those in St. Louis continue East to participate in legal sports betting,” Bussmann said. “This is one of the original states that started making a move on sports betting and still has yet to cross the goal line and the special session provides them another opportunity to punch it in."
Attempts to contact Houx were not returned Wednesday afternoon. Houx was also a sponsor for HB 2502 in the regular session.
“Missouri is feeling the heat from the Kansas launch as they should,” Bussman said. “This should have been the year of the Kansas-Missouri Act. I guess Missouri gets one more bit at the proverbial apple in 2022, but the Senate remains the obstacle.”
Kansas passed its sports betting legislation in May and had a soft launch Sept. 1. According to geolocation company GeoComply, there were nearly 80,000 attempts to access mobile sports betting sites in Kansas by residents of Missouri during the first weekend of legal betting in Kansas.
“No, I’m not good with it,” said Missouri State Senator Caleb Rowden on Twitter in early September when asked about wagering dollars leaving the state for Kansas. “And it will be a priority of mine to rectify it in our upcoming regular session.”
How We Got Here in Missouri
Missouri’s path to sports betting legalization came tantalizingly close to completion in May, but the State Senate left Springfield without a deal on HB 2502.
The legislation initially stalled out in the Senate after members, such as Sen. Danny Hoskins, filibustered over the bill’s failure to include video lottery terminals. Hoskins’ subsequent efforts to get a standalone sports betting bill passed were unsuccessful.
HB 2502 cleared the state’s House by a 115-33 margin March 24. But it didn’t get the same reception when it went to the Senate on April 27.
Hoskins and fellow Republican Senator Mike Bernskoetter sparred over the video lottery terminals. Bernskoetter wanted the 5,000 machines removed from the bill, while Hoskins remained adamant they remain.