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Coronavirus Likely Ruining Chances of Sports Betting in Missouri

Sports betting in Missouri appeared to have some serious momentum heading into 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic ruined any real chances of that happening. The coronavirus pandemic forced the legislative session to end prematurely, leaving no time to discuss any of the bills in length.

There were six different sports betting bills proposed through the first three months of 2020, and at least one lawmaker believed that a bill would get passed. Representative Phil Christofanelli was the sponsor of one of the sports betting bills, and he was extremely optimistic that lawmakers would have settled and passed at least one of the proposed bills in 2020.

Members of the Missouri Legislature returned on April 7, but it wasn’t under normal circumstances. Lawmakers were forced to return to create a coronavirus emergency aid package, but all of the operations were done differently.

Visitors and lobbyists were not allowed in the chambers, and only 10 members of the Legislature were allowed on the floor at any one time. All 10 members had to be wearing masks, with other lawmakers participating through virtual feeds.

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Lawmakers in Missouri will have to reconvene in June, but it is still unclear when or how that will take place. The Missouri Legislature will need to vote on a budget for the next fiscal year, and they will likely not focus on any other issues.

The legislative session normally ends on May 15, but that date will have to be extended under these unusual circumstances.

Not Far Off

Three bills proposed in the House made it out of committee this year, which is a sign that sports betting isn’t too far off. The Special Committee on Government Oversight passed the three bills that they received, leaving it up to the lawmakers to decide which route to take.

House Bill 2088, sponsored by Dan Shaul, appears to be in the lead, but that could all change when lawmakers are back in session.

House Bill 2088 would open up sports betting at lottery terminal machines located throughout the state. Retail locations could apply for a license to house one of these machines, and the bill proposes that sports betting be taxed at a revenue of nine percent.

The other two bills that made it out of committee are House Bill 2284 and House Bill 2318. Both bills are a little bit different from House Bill 2088, and their differences seem to keep them from moving through the House as quickly.

House Bill 2284 would also propose that all sports betting revenue be taxed at a rate of nine percent, which is consistent with HB 2088. A major difference in this bill is that both mobile and retail sports betting would be legalized.

Sportsbooks would also be forced to use official league data if they were offering any bets on a particular sport. This would force sportsbooks to partner with professional sports leagues, which would raise the initial costs for sportsbooks.

House Bill 2318 proposes a 6.75 percent tax rate on all sports betting revenue, which is much smaller than the other two bills. The low tax rate is what has caused some lawmakers to be hesitant to support the bill, but it does have other favorable language.

Both mobile and retail sports betting would be legalized through this bill, but sportsbooks would not have to use official league data.

Lawmakers in Missouri will still have three weeks left of their general session, but it is not yet decided when that will take place. Proponents of sports betting are hoping that some discussion will take place; otherwise, it appears that Missouri will be a state ready to launch sports betting in 2021.

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