Missouri Senator Cites Iowa Sportsbooks As Reason To Legalize Sports Betting

Written By Derek Helling on December 15, 2020 - Last Updated on December 16, 2020

For those concerned with state budgets, residents of one state paying taxes to another can be problematic. A Missouri state Senator recently expressed that sentiment in regards to Missourians who are patronizing legal sportsbooks in Iowa.

MO Sen. Denny Hoskins wants to change the law so his constituents can instead place legal sports bets in Missouri. It isn’t clear to what extent that will happen in 2021, however.

What a Missouri Senator and his colleagues are doing

Sen. Hoskins spoke on the need to legalize sports betting in the Show-Me State. He was clear that he thinks his state is giving away tax dollars to the coffers in Iowa.

“They (Missourians) will literally drive to the state of Iowa and go up there (Iowa) to a casino, or literally drive across the Iowa state line so they can place a legal bet in the state of Iowa, and then drive back home to Missouri.”

While it’s uncertain how frequently those from Missouri are traveling to the Hawkeye State to gamble, it’s hard to believe that Hoskins is misguided in his comments. MO Rep. Wes Rogers also reports he has spoken to constituents who are doing exactly that.

Last year, MO legislators took a swing at legalizing sports betting, but the litany of legislation never saw a vote in either legislative chamber. Now, Hoskins is one of the multiple legislators to pre-file bills for the session, which begins on Jan. 6.

While that suggests some broad support in at least the MO Senate for sports betting legalization, the issue that stymied that movement last year may remain. Then again, maybe the passage of time changed some minds.

Why didn’t MO sports betting pass last year?

For the most part, the various gambling expansion bills were in agreement on a lot of points. The main point of contention had nothing to do with sports betting.

Some members in the MO Senate wanted to make video lottery terminals (VLT), which are currently available on a limited basis, explicitly legal as part of the gambling expansion. Right now, it’s a legal gray area in the state.

Other legislators opposed regulating VLTs, however. Their concern was the cannibalization of casinos in MO. Additionally, some legislators expressed worries about responsible gambling protocols with VLT rooms.

Those two factions of the MO Legislature couldn’t iron out a deal and, thus, gambling expansion never moved beyond committees. However, if they can work something out in the next session, MO could become a competitive sports betting market.

Three MO sports betting bills

The pre-filed bills would all authorize wagering on sporting events at the state’s casinos and online. Hoskins’ bill would also allow the MO Lottery to offer parlays.

Hoskins’ bill would tax revenue at 9%, while another sets that rate equal to Iowa’s at 6.75%. The third would be a nationwide low rate of 6.25%, which could give Missouri a leg up over Iowa in terms of monthly handle.

Besides its state population, the most significant advantage for Missouri is its pro sports market. Kansas City and St. Louis both play host to multiple major league franchises, which would drive MO sports betting interest.

The process of trying to take advantage of those markets has begun again for 2021. If Hoskins gets his way, it could help keep Missouri tax dollars in Missouri.

Photo by Nam Y. Huh / AP
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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