It’s been more than three weeks since the Missouri House voted to pass the chamber’s sports betting bill, HB-556, and there’s been zero movement since.
The legislation, which was sponsored in the House by Republican Rep. Dan Houx of Warrensburg, cleared the chamber by a 118-35-2 margin, showing how much bipartisan support there is for sports betting in Missouri.
Houx told BetMissouri.com he’s still confident the Senate will heed the calls of Missourians by passing HB-556 prior to the last day of the session on May 12.
"I think it's time to get it done,” Houx told BetMissouri.com “The subject's been around the state of Missouri in the legislature for several years — I think people just want to be done with it."
VLTs Still a Challenge for Betting Legislation
Houx believes the Senate will move on with his bill as soon as next week, with the next step in Jefferson City being the chamber’s Appropriations committee, which is chaired by Sen. Lincoln Hough of Greene County.
A major obstacle that awaits HB-556 is the same subject that ultimately tabled its Senate companion bill, SB-30 — video lottery terminals. Bill sponsor Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer had to pull SB-30 from the Senate floor last week after a daylong debate which included proposals for numerous amendments to the bill along with a lengthy filibuster.
The gray market VLT gaming machines are a third rail for many legislators, with strong resistance from the state’s riverboat casinos and no discernable support from Missouri’s professional sports teams, who are the other party in the Show Me State’s wagering debate.
Houx acknowledged the obstacles VLT advocates like Sen. Denny Hoskins present but said he’s confident he’ll be able to steer the bill through.
"I'm optimistic after having a meeting with Sen. Hoskins last week, and I look forward to having this meeting with him on Monday,” Houx said.
Industry insiders, like B Global Advisors Managing Partner Brendan Bussmann, said obstruction from VLT advocates in the Senate is a real issue for HB-556, just as it was for last year’s legislation (HB-2502) that cleared the House only to die on the chamber’s floor.
“We’ve seen this act last year where one legislator in particular that burned the bill last year tried to do the same this year, and his pet issue went down in flames in the same manner,” Bussmann said. “Should this get done, it will be because of the collective body that is tired of these antics.”
Will Peer Pressure Force Senate’s Hand?
A major question mark surrounding the passage of Missouri’s lone remaining sports betting bill is whether the collective support of state residents can turn the tide in the Senate.
With lawmakers from the only state to pass wagering legislation in 2023 (Kentucky) acknowledging the impact the general public had on flipping enough ‘nay’ votes to ‘yeas,’ it’s worth wondering whether such an outcome is possible in Missouri.
Rep. Houx, for one, thinks such an outcome may be possible, with voters pulling no punches online about their desire to get wagering in place before the end of the 2023 legislative session.
“Well, I don’t do social media, but I looked at my Twitter page the other day and it definitely seemed like there is public pressure towards Sen. Hoskins right now,” Houx said.
“… We’ve already proven in the House that we can get [sports betting] through the chamber. So, I think it’s just time to get it done.”
If sports betting in the state does become legal, BetMissouri.com will be home to Missouri sportsbook promos.