After another legislative session came and went without sports betting passed in Missouri, a global advocacy group is among those urging the state to go all-in next year.
David Clement, the North American affairs manager for Consumer Choice Center and co-author of a new study diving into sports betting policies from state to state as well as the revenue they pull in, encouraged the Show-Me State to enact its own version in the near future to cut down on illegal gaming and reap the financial benefits of a new market.
"The key to stamping out the illegal sports betting market is legalizing sports betting, and having an open and competitive market where legal sports books compete for consumers," Clement said in a statement. "Not only does this help grow the legal market, it actively discourages consumers from placing bets in the illegal market which is ripe for fraud and abuse."
He added, "Missouri should immediately legalize sports betting, and do so in a way that opens the market and encourages competition."
The federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively outlawed sports betting throughout the U.S. with the exception of a few states, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court several years ago. In its wake, 30 states have enacted their own sports betting policies while several, including Missouri and neighboring Kentucky and Oklahoma, have not.
The report assigned states a score based on the legality of sports betting, whether it is accessible in-person or online, the entity in control of the system and the number of sportsbooks per capita. Missouri was one of 15 states that received a score of 0.
Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and West Virginia, meanwhile, each scored 21 -- the highest available -- based on their policies and the competitiveness they facilitated.
Kansas, which saw its brand new sports betting law go into effect this month, scored a 5 as it was not in effect at the time of the report's publication.
Illegal sports betting was estimated to generate between $50-200 billion nationwide in 2020, according to the report. New Jersey, which launched its sports betting program in 2018, has thus far generated around $1.8 billion in total sports betting revenue and more than $229 million in state tax collections. The Garden State was the first to cross the $1 billion mark and has generated at least $925 million every month so far this year, a stat attributed by the report to low taxes, predominant commercial oversight and prioritizing the use of mobile technology.
In addition to the financial prospects, from new revenue to jobs and an increased tax base, the report noted states with these lower taxing policies sometimes attract business from neighboring states -- even if they, too, have sports betting on the books. The authors said an estimated 20 percent of New Jersey's betters were actually New Yorkers coming over to avoid their state's 51 percent tax rate.
Worries of a similar migration -- this time with Missourians heading to Kansas to take part in its newly-established program -- have come up over the past several months.
While it isn't at the forefront of sports betting, the Show-Me State has been debating the issue for several years, often with dueling taxation rates and parameters. This year's regular legislative session saw the state House pass a sports betting bill on to the Senate, where it stalled out due to the inclusion of video lottery terminals within the bill's language. The version of the bill that was eventually tabled would have set a 10 percent tax rate and was expected to generate around $10 million in new revenue for the state annually.
The state's most prominent sports teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs, have come to the table and encouraged lawmakers to shepherd sports betting through to the finish line, as have business groups including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"As the idea has been considered in Missouri, lawmakers have taken time to ensure that any new law would not harm the state's successful sports franchises," a March statement from the chamber read. "Lawmakers have also worked to develop a workable tax structure and set aside funds to combat gambling addiction."
While there has been ample support from the business community, others have expressed concerns about gambling addiction: the National Council on Problem Gaming (NCPG) cites 1,817 Missourians reaching out through the state's problem gambling hotline. NCPG also went to the table on this year's discussions, working to add language focused on problem gambling to the bill.
"NCPG testified in Missouri in writing and in person and was successful in ensuring amendments that focused on problem gambling were included in later iterations of the legislation," the group's site read. "NCPG hopes to pick up where we left off in 2023 in Missouri should a sports betting bill be re-introduced."
Read the full report at consumerchoicecenter.org.