Missouri Seeks Participation in US Sports Betting Frenzy

Missouri rekindles sports betting debate after previous unsuccessful attempts, Gov. Parson not opposed to wagering happening in the state

Missouri is making a play for legalizing sports betting on its territory a little over six months after the US Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on wagering and after seven states have gone live with sports betting since the landmark ruling was issued.

According to reports from multiple local news outlets, the state Legislature is likely to consider sports betting as a new source of revenue for the local education system. Rep. Dean Plocher has told media that he certainly anticipates the topic to be out there for discussion before the House and the Senate.

The legislator has long been a staunch supporter of the legalization of sports betting in the state. He introduced a legislation on the matter last spring, but the piece did not advance in the Legislature. Rep. Plocher has also said that multiple sports gambling bills have been circulating since the federal ban was lifted.

Under those initial draft legislations, the state’s 13 casinos would be allowed to run sports betting services. According to early projections, gambling on sporting events could generate between $18 million and $40 million for the state’s coffers. Missouri’s current gambling law reads that tax revenue from casino gambling must be spent on various educational programs. Since casinos will operate wagering, tax money from the practice will, too, go to the state’s education system, unless the current law is amended.

Integrity Fee Debate

While the sports betting legalization debate has not officially began in Missouri, there have already been discussions among lawmakers and other involved parties regarding the introduction of an integrity fee. Last spring’s legalization effort included a request by baseball teams St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals to receive a share of what sports betting generates in the form of an integrity fee. The money would be used to offset any increased expenses that might arise from wagering.

The two teams supported last spring a 1% fee from all wagers placed at the state’s casinos. Opponents of the proposal said that such a fee was not necessary as sports teams and leagues would benefit from increased interest once sports betting became legal in Missouri.

Rep. Plocher has said that he supports the implementation of an integrity fee, but has pointed out that lawmakers would have to find a “sweet spot” for both the state’s casinos and the sports leagues.

Sen. Denny Hoskins, another sports betting legalization proponent, has said that the integrity fee issue would remain divisive and that he would review how other states were handling it. None of the seven states that have gone live with sports betting since the SCOTUS ruling have implemented such a fee.

While the legalization of wagering might still face different hurdles while debated in the Missouri Legislature, the state’s governor would not be one such hurdle, it has become known. A spokesman for Gov. Mike Parson has said that while sports gambling was not a charge the official was leading, he was not opposed to it happening.

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