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Missouri lawmakers have again advanced an online sports betting bill with proponents hoping this year will finally see its passage.

The Missouri House “perfected” sports betting legislation Monday, a key step that sets up a formal vote for passage on the House floor. Though that vote was not scheduled as of Tuesday, formal action could come as early as this month.

If passed through the full House, an identical version of the legislation still must pass through the Senate. A similar effort was defeated in the Senate last year due to concerns over the state’s unregulated gaming terminals.

Sports betting proponents have tried for several years to separate the gaming terminal legislation from the sports betting bill. It remains to be seen if Senate video gaming regulation advocates will be willing to let the standalone sports betting legislation pass or will again entangle the two proposals.

Legalizing these machines, which are in hundreds of truck stops, convenience stores and other businesses throughout the state, is opposed by the state’s regulated casino industry. Missouri lawmakers have been unable to reach consensus on regulating, banning or finding another solution for these machines.

Missouri sports betting details

If passed, Missouri could have one of the more robust mobile sports betting markets in the country.

Each of the state’s casinos would be able to partner with multiple operators, potentially allowing more than 30 sportsbooks. Though the proliferation of available licenses – and the current business-friendly 10% tax rate – could entice many leading operators, it appears unlikely Missouri would ever reach that maximum. No state has more than 30 live sportsbooks.

As with nearly every other major market, US leaders DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars would be among the likeliest companies to seek licensure. All the aforementioned sportsbooks either have a pre-set market access deal through one of the Missouri casinos or would be virtually guaranteed of finding a partner.

Other brands with Missouri casino ties including Penn Entartainment’s Barstool Sportsbook and Bally Bet would also likely seek licensure. Additional US brands looking to grow their US footholds including bet365, Fanatics and Betr would also be among the likely candidates.

In-state sports teams have been among the leading advocates. Officials from the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, NHL’s St. Louis Blues and MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals have all publicly testified in favor the proposals. If passed, the state’s major professional sports teams could also partner with one operator apiece.

If passed this spring, legal wagering could begin as early as this fall. Regulators in Kansas, which passed its sports betting bill in spring, worked to launch mobile sports betting before the 2022 NFL season kicked off but it remains too early to tell if Missouri regulators would be able to do the same.

Regional impact

The continued push for legal Missouri sports betting comes as virtually all of its neighbors are already taking bets.

Kansas, which shares the Kansas City metro area with Missouri, started taking bets last September. Missouri lawmakers have continually referenced Kansas’ sports betting legalization as a catalyst for a similar move in the Show Me State, especially after the Chiefs won this year’s Super Bowl.

Illinois, which shares the St. Louis metro area with Missouri, started taking mobile bets in 2020. Missouri’s other neighbors including Tennessee, Iowa and Arkansas also allow mobile bets. Nebraska will open its first in-person sportsbooks as early as this year, while Kentucky and Oklahoma are also considering legalization this year in their respective legislative sessions.

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