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After holding five hearings over three months beginning in August, the bipartisan Missouri House Special Interim Committee on Gaming has released their report confirming their approval for sports betting legislation.
“We want to give the General Assembly a set of facts, a set of baseline of where we’re at, and what some problems are out there,” Shaul told Missourinet earlier this week.
The Committee’s report ultimately found that sports betting could be an economic driver for the state’s 13 licensed riverboat casinos and help the state increase funding for education. The report further states that by not legalizing and regulating wagering on sporting events, that Missouri would lose those dollars to neighboring states that have legalized.
Early estimates place annual tax revenue for the state from sports betting around $37 million. That estimate is based upon an estimate that Missourians will wager roughly $5.5 billion per year on sporting events.
During the hearings held by the committee over the past few months, several representatives from professional sports leagues testified to lawmakers about regulating betting and including a small royalty on each bet.
The “integrity fee” discussion has gotten nowhere with the other 18 states that have legalized sports betting as legislators have rejected the request by the pro leagues. But those refusals have not stopped the leagues from trying with other states yet to legalize wagering.
The three leagues gave lawmakers an outline of taking .25% of each bet of every wager made on a game from that specific league.
The leagues are also tying Missouri’s casinos ability to receive official sports data from each entity to the integrity fee. If the estimate of $376 million in annual winnings to casinos on $5.5 billion in betting holds up, the leagues would divvy up roughly $3.4 million in annual fees on bets.
The leagues believe integrity fees are necessary in order to assure that all money is placed in necessary areas to guarantee the safety of players and the authenticity of games.
So far, states that have legalized betting have concluded that the casinos are more than capable of discovering odd betting patterns and essentially governing themselves in terms of irregularity.
One of the biggest criticisms of the report is that it does not outline who will run sports betting in the state or how a bill should look when lawmakers begin their plans to author legislation in 2020.
There is concern that Missouri will choose to slow play the rollout of sports betting and not offer online betting and, instead, allow just the current casinos to handle wagering.
In other states where online betting has not been introduced at launch, like Pennsylvania, early returns were muted due to the fact bettors had to travel to a casino to place a wager.
Sports betting could also be further complicated if it is tied to a bill that also regulates a gaming machine expansion as legislators look to shore up illegal betting via gaming terminals in the state.
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