Missouri Sports-Betting Bills Are Back But VLTs Remain A Roadblock

December 5, 2022
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Lawmakers in Missouri have begun filing bills ahead of the 2023 legislative session, with two sports-betting bills among the hundreds expected to be introduced by members of both chambers of the state legislature.

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Lawmakers in Missouri have begun filing bills ahead of the 2023 legislative session, with two sports-betting bills among the hundreds expected to be introduced by members of both chambers of the state legislature.

Republican Senator Denny Hoskins, who successfully killed a sports-betting bill earlier this year when he added video lottery terminals (VLTs) to the proposal, pre-filed a bill on Thursday (December 1) for consideration in the 2023 session that seeks to legalize both wagering on sports and VLTs.

Hoskins' support for VLTs has created problems for supporters of sports betting who want the legislature to pass a bill that focuses exclusively on legalizing sports betting.

Senate Bill 1 would allow the Missouri State Lottery Commission to implement a system of VLTs and to issue licenses to manufacturers, distributors, operators, handlers and retailers.

“The commission shall not allow a single vendor or licensee to be responsible for implementing the program, nor shall it allow a single vendor or licensee to control or operate more than 25 percent of video lottery game terminals in the state after December 31, 2027,” according to the bill.

Hoskins' proposal would allow VLTs to be placed in “fraternal organizations, veterans’ organizations, and trucks stops … and in business entities licensed to sell liquor by the drink.” The bill would also require a $300 annual fee for each VLT operated by a licensed establishment.

The machines would be taxed at 36 percent, with the lottery commission paying up to 4 percent to cities and counties where VLTs are located to compensate them for any administration costs. The remaining adjusted gross receipts will be split between the retailer and operator.

Lottery retailers would be limited to a maximum of five VLTs, with other locations capped at eight machines.

The bill allows a municipality or a county to adopt an ordinance within 180 days of the effective date of August 23, 2023, should the measure pass next year, to prohibit VLTs within the municipality or the unincorporated area of the particular county.

Hoskins noted that the provisions in SB 1 were similar to about 19 other bills that had been introduced in the legislature beginning in 2017. The bill also requires the General Assembly to appropriate at least $5m annually from the Missouri Gaming Commission Fund to the state's Compulsive Gamblers Fund.

The bill’s sports-betting section authorizes wagering on sporting events, including esports, and modifies the definition of gambling game to include sports betting.

Hoskins' proposal would allow retail wagering at Missouri casinos, with each location allowed to offer two mobile wagering platforms, and create designated sports districts for professional franchises to provide a single mobile betting platform.

Retail and mobile wagering would be taxed at 10 percent, with a first mobile license paying a $250,000 annual administration fee, and a $500,000 annual administration fee for the second mobile platform.

Applicants would be required to pay a $150,000 application fee and an annual renewal fee of up to $125,000.

A coalition of supporters that includes many of the state’s casinos and professional sports teams are expected to oppose Hoskins' latest bill, instead wanting lawmakers to vote on sports-betting legislation without VLTs during next year's legislative session.

The first of several expected standalone sports-betting bills was also pre-filed last week, as Republican Senator Tony Luetkemeyer introduced Senate Bill 30 that would tax retail and mobile sports betting at 10 percent.

The bill also establishes designated sports districts in areas surrounding stadiums in which professional sports teams play their home games, including Busch Stadium home to Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals.

Professional sports teams may contract with a mobile operator to conduct sports betting within those districts, but any “operation, promotion, signage, advertising, or other business activity relating to sports wagering, shall be prohibited within designated sports districts.”

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