Missouri moved one step closer to legalizing sports betting this week, after lawmakers voted to bring a bill up for debate on the floor of the state’s House of Representatives.

Members of the House Special Committee on Government Oversight approved House Bill 2088 on Tuesday, sending the legislation onward for further analysis.

The bill – which was introduced by state representative Dan Shaul (R-113) on January 8 – would allow licensed gambling operators to add both physical and online / mobile sportsbooks to their offerings. In addition to bringing sportsbooks to the Show-Me State’s collection of 13 casinos, Shaul’s proposal would also designate new “entertainment districts” in Kansas City and St. Louis.

As Shaul explained during his testimony to the committee, these entertainment districts would be permitted to offer both sports betting and video lottery terminals (VLTs) that are essentially slot machines:

“What this does is basically allows (the) Power and Light District (in Kansas City) and also Ballpark Village areas to become an entertainment district so that they could also do sports betting and VLT.

I believe before this bill is done, they’ll be some expansion of that to some other players that will want to be involved.”

Those “other players” Shaul referred to include bars, fraternal organizations, and truck stops among others.

Missouri’s Two Major Metropolitan Areas Stand to Benefit

The Power and Light District in Kansas City, along with Ballpark Village in St. Louis, are the only two in Missouri which meet the $200 million local investment requirement called for by HB-2088.

Both entertainment districts are owned and operated by The Cordish Companies, a Maryland-based real estate development firm.

In a statement issued to KCTV-5 News, a spokesperson for The Cordish Companies confirmed interest in expanding its entertainment districts to include sports betting and VLTs:

“We believe this is a very exciting opportunity to increase revenues to the State of Missouri and the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City while enhancing the entertainment experience at Ballpark Village and the Power & Light District for our millions of annual guests.”

If the bill becomes law, sports betting would be regulated by the Missouri Lottery Commission (MLC) and taxed at a rate of 9 percent on adjusted gross receipts.

Lawmakers Bullish on Competing with Fellow Midwestern States

Back in October, while serving as chairman of the House Special Interim Committee on Gaming, Shaul invited major sportsbook operators such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and Boyd Gaming to testify.

A representative for Boyd Gaming told the committee that Missourians are already making trips across the state border to place bets with Iowa’s newly legal sportsbooks. The level of lost revenue is expected to increase with regulated sports wagering already legalized and awaiting implementation in neighboring Illinois and Tennessee.

That was enough to convince state representative Wes Rogers (D-18), who told colleagues that time is of the essence if Missouri hopes to compete with fellow Midwestern markets:

“I very much support legalized sports.

We already are behind. Illinois is doing it, Iowa is doing it, Arkansas is doing it.
If we don’t legalize sports betting, we will lose revenue to our neighbors and it will cost us jobs, especially in the cities.”

As part of the Special Interim Committee’s final report, Shaul furthered the argument that legal sports betting represents a lucrative source of currently untapped revenue for the state:

“The legalization of sports betting as a legitimate opportunity to increase state revenues and to direct such revenues in a manner similar to the Missouri Lottery and casino gaming so that the bulk will help to fund education.

By 2020, 18 states will have implemented such gaming and Missouri would likely lose revenue if it does not remain competitive with the other states.”

Jonathan Zaun

One of Gamble Online's first dedicated reporters, Jonathan has spent well over a decade reporting on the gaming industry. While breaking legal news is his main area of expertise, Jonathan is an avid blackjack player & strategist who follows professional poker closely.

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