Missouri Lawmakers hold hearing on sports books and fantasy betting

Published: Oct. 24, 2019 at 4:47 PM CDT
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"The eventual entrance of sports gambling into our state represents, as far as I know, the biggest change in casino gaming since we started having it," said Bob Priddy of Jefferson City.

That's why lawmakers are taking their time to hear from as many gaming and fantasy sports industry leaders before passing voting on a law to legalize sports betting -- something the Supreme Court ruled in favor of in 2018.

It’s still illegal here, which means other states are cashing in while Missouri is missing out.

"Missouri's legal sports betting industry would generate $95 million of revenue annually," said Chris Krafcik, Managing Director of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. "Betting at both land based facilities and via mobile devices from anywhere within the state's borders, Missouri's legal sports betting industry would generate approximately $289 million in revenue."

But, lawmakers say there are questions on how to persuade those who already place illegal bets on sporting events, to use a regulated service.

Representatives from the fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings say brand recognition is one way to do that.

"Offering incentives for people to compete with the offshore market is incredibly important, so promotional play becomes another big piece of that," said Stacie Stern, Manager of Government Affairs for FanDuel.

Lawmakers want to look at how to tax the bets, and whether or not to allow the "integrity fee."

That fee is how pro leagues like the NFL can get a cut of the profits.

No other states have allowed that fee, and gaming experts say if Missouri did, it's likely not all 13 state casinos would build a sports book.

"One thing that we'd expect to observe is fairly limited, or lukewarm participation in the market," Krafcik added. "So maybe you would have two or three casinos participating here."

There were several sports gambling bills that failed during the 2019 Legislative Session, but it seems this will be a big priority when lawmakers officially return in January 2020.