The Missouri House is once again tackling the controversial issue of legalizing sports betting within the state. Rep. Dan Houx, a Warrensburg Republican, is leading the charge with House Bill 2331, which is currently under consideration by the Special Committee on Public Policy. The proposed legislation aims to legalize sports wagering and could potentially generate an estimated $35 million for education through a 10% tax on bets.

St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III emphasized the economic benefits, stating that Missouri is losing valuable tax revenue by not legalizing sports betting. The proposal also aims to address problem gambling, generate revenue for the state, and regulate the growing marketplace. Several Missouri professional sports teams and mobile gaming giants like FanDuel and DraftKings have contributed $2 million to a signature collection effort organized by the “Winning for Missouri Education” coalition. This initiative seeks to collect a minimum of 180,000 signatures for the measure to be included on the November ballot, allowing teams to take responsibility for sports betting operations and advertising within a 400-yard radius of their stadiums.

The coalition, which includes major teams like the St. Louis Blues and the Kansas City Chiefs, seeks to secure voter approval for sports betting, potentially bypassing legislative action.

The proposed bill faces opposition from lobbyist Bob Priddy, who argues that the 10% tax rate is insufficient compared to the 21% tax rate imposed on casinos. However, proponents like Sean Ostrow, representing FanDuel and DraftKings, contend that Missouri is missing out on revenue, with an estimated 350,000 residents attempting to place bets on mobile devices.

As the legislative drama unfolds, the state’s riverboat casinos, numbering 13, await the potential inclusion of sports betting. The bill also opens the door for mobile bets, creating opportunities for internet users to engage in sports wagering within the state. Meanwhile, another bill, SB852, championed by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, introduces a stiffer 12% tax on sportsbooks.

Missouri’s professional sports teams are advocating for a direct appeal to voters, showcasing a multi-faceted approach to legalizing sports betting in the state.

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