As the new legislative session begins in the State of Missouri this week, House Bill 581, sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli was introduced and with it, the opportunity for Missouri to finally repeal the laws that would then allow sports and esports betting in the state.
The not unexpected news comes a short time after an initial gambling bill, HB4, that was presented in 2022, but which failed to pass in time due to filibustering by Senator Denny Hoskins in April 2022.
After neighbouring state Kansas successfully changed its legislation to allow sports betting in the state in 2022, Missouri has missed out on potentially millions of dollars in tax (Kansas reported an increase of $8m in tax revenue, directly attributable to legalising sports betting in the state).
Furthermore, with hundreds of thousands of Missourians crossing the border to place bets in Kansas, it is a no-brainer for the state to try and pass the bill, repeal the laws and modify its legislation to allow betting in the state.
What betting does the new bill cover?
The new bill will alter the definition of ‘games of skill’ to include sports betting and esports betting. In fact, esports betting has been specifically included in the definition of what betting will be allowed in Missouri should the bill be passed.
By definition, when Missouri refers to sports wagering it refers to:
“Wagering on athletic, sporting and other competitive events involving human competitors including, but not limited to, esports, or on other events as approved by the commission.”
This means that all your standard betting markets, pre-match and In-Play betting, should all be covered by the new legislation.
To clarify, the bill classifies esports as “athletic and sporting events in which all participants are eighteen years of age or older and involving electronic sports and competitive video games.”
The amendments to the bill do not cover fantasy betting, which has been legal under separate legislation in the state since 2016.
Could Missouri soon see esports betting?
Given that the state was in a race with neighbour Kansas to introduce sports betting in 2022 (a race which it lost), the hopes are that natives of Missouri will soon be able to enjoy sports and esports betting.
A structure for how the sports and esports betting in the state would be organised involving licenses for real world and online operators working in partnership with sports teams based in the state, has already been proposed.
However, as has been the case in other states; when it comes to sports and esports betting in the USA, it will be the financial benefits to the state that will likely prove to be the most compelling argument.
With other states now bringing in multiple millions and in some cases tens of millions in additional tax revenue through the legalisation of betting on sports and esports tournaments, Missouri knows that to remain fiscally responsible, it needs to do something.
And the state needs to do something quick.
Otherwise the hundreds of thousands of Missourians who have popped over the border to bet in Kansas will instead be contributing to raising taxes in the neighbouring state, rather than their own.