Missouri sports betting could become a VLT issue

2023 Missouri Sports Betting Legislation
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Since the repeal of PASPA in 2018, sports betting bills have regularly been bogged down by other political issues. Such is the case in Missouri. There will likely be multiple sports betting bills in next year’s legislative session in the Show-Me State. Like last year, it appears the debate will be less about the merits of sports betting and more about the merits of regulating Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs).

Sen. Denny Hoskins has already prefiled his legislation, SB 1, which would legalize and regulate both sports betting and VLTS. Here are the highlights of the Hoskins bill as it relates to VLTs:

  • Allows VLTs in fraternal organizations, veterans’ organizations, and truck stops (8 machines per venue)
    Allows VLTs in bars and restaurants with liquor licenses (5 machines per venue)
  • Annual fee of $300 per machine
  • No licenses for felons or persons convicted of a crime involving illegal gambling
    Must be 21 to play
    Taxed at 36%

And here are the broad strokes of the sports betting element of the bill:

  • Authorizes online and retail sports betting through casinos (technically “excursion gambling boats”)
  • Each property gets three total licenses for online sports betting
  • First skin taxed at $250,000 annually, second and third skins taxed at $500,000 annually
  • Taxed at 10%

Last year, Hoskins lobbied for a 21% tax rate on sports betting, so he has revised that number down, but remains firm in his commitment to tie the fate of sports betting to VLTs.

In 2021, Hoskins filibustered a bill offering sports betting but not VLTs. He killed the bill’s chances of advancing out of the Senate during a four-hour filibuster where he bragged about 153 amendments he had ready to attach to the legislation, claiming each amendment represented $1 million in tax revenue lost if VLTs were not legalized.

Rep. Dan Houx, who filed a sports betting bill last year, told KansasCity.com he plans to file a bill similar to the one he filed previously when the session begins in January.

The urgency around sports betting is heightened this year, as neighboring Kansas recently launched online sports betting. Save for Oklahoma and Kentucky, the state is surrounded by states with online gambling.