Pressure is mounting on Missouri to launch sports betting as gamblers can now place legal wagers in any of its neighboring states, but not within the borders of the Show Me State. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle argue Missouri is losing millions in potential tax revenue by keeping the practice illegal, with the big question of when Missourians will finally be able to place legal sports wagers being one that Gov. Mike Parson now hears more frequently.
“All of a sudden, people can go over there and do their thing and in Missouri they can’t,” Parson recently stated, in response to Kansas’ sports betting market launch in September, which means now all of Missouri’s neighbors offer legal sports gaming. Figures from Kansas’ first month of activity show the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas, accounted for roughly 59% of all statewide revenue, seemingly affirming that Missourians are crossing state lines to place bets after the Show Me State failed once again to legalize during the past session.
“We’ll see how it all plays out but that’s the General Assembly’s thing,” Parson added, as reported by FOX2Now. As of late, lawmakers have ramped up their push for sports betting legalization, with both Senate and House leadership calling it a “priority.” But Parson has seemingly struck a more ambiguous tone when talking about legalization: “I think it’s going to be one of those things that’s coming when the day comes. The day is going to happen but that needs to go through the legislative process, and it goes in there year in and year out.”
Moreover, during a recent interview, the governor said he too believes the issue will be a hot topic next session, but didn’t give any indication if he supports it, according to the cited source. “That decision will be mine when it hits my desk but until then, you have to let the process work out and see what happens,” Parson said. His remarks follow the end of a special session last week which called for the passage of legislation that lowers the state’s income tax rate and reauthorizes tax credits for farmers.
While some wanted the governor to include sports wagering on the special session’s agenda, lawmakers adjourned with the issue out of the debate table. “You just can’t call a special session because something doesn’t get passed every year in the General Assembly,” Gov. Mike Parson said as to why sports betting wasn’t featured. As he didn’t expand the session’s call, the legalization debate will now have to wait for when lawmakers come back in January.
Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo (D-Independence) is among the lawmakers calling for legalization. “If I go home next May or I’m at my next fantasy football draft without sports betting, they are going to put me out on a rail,” he stated, as reported by FOX2Now. “We’ve got to do whatever it is we need to do to get it done. My constituents want it, but more importantly, it’s just something this state needs to get done.”
Thousands of attempts by Missourians to access Kansas sportsbooks have been recorded since the neighboring state launched its market. Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg) filed legislation – House Bill 4 – calling for legalization during the special session, although it wasn’t discussed. The proposition is similar to what was before lawmakers this spring, allowing those 21 and older to place bets on college and pro teams under a 10% tax rate that could bring about $16 million to the state annually.
Representatives from the Royals, Chiefs, Kansas City Current, St. Louis City SC, Blues, and Cardinals have also long pushed for legal sports betting, having testified in favor of the proposal. Incoming Speaker of the House Dean Plocher (R-Des Peres) said Thursday he also plans to make sports betting a priority next session, stating it is something that already should have been done.