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House committee advances sports betting bill with royalty fee

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The committee charged with vetting the differing sports betting bills has advanced the version which includes a fee paid to the sports league.

On Monday, the House General Laws Committee voted 7-3 in favor of Rep. Cody Smith’s HB 119, which would legalize wagering on sporting events in Missouri. The amended version of the bill blends in some aspects from Rep. Robert Ross’ HB 859, the other House bill on the subject, and concerns brought up in the public hearing.

“Essentially this takes into account some of the testimony that was offered by both the casinos and the major leagues. It does a few things that will probably annoy everybody,” said Committee Chair Rep. Dean Plocher. “I think this [bill] offers an avenue for sports gaming to be competitive in the United States to be had in Missouri.”

The amended version prohibits the disclosure of information gathered that otherwise could be sold to third parties, has a data fee to be assessed by the Missouri Gaming Commission, and details who can and cannot gamble.

The bill also includes a 0.6 percent entry and infrastructure fee to be paid to the stadiums housing the game being bet on and a 0.25 percent royalty fee, also called integrity fee, to be paid to the professional sports league. A wagering tax of 6.25 percent would be imposed on gross receipts received from sports wagering which shall be deposited in the “Gaming Proceeds for Education Fund.”

Some Democrats pushed back on the variety of fees in the bill. Rep. Jon Carpenter noted that the different fees and taxes in the bill amounted to a 25 percent tax — because the fees are off the total amount bet and not casino profits — with more than half of that going to sports entities.

“Just so that everyone understands, the tax assessment here…between the royalty fee and the stadium fee, 0.85 percent would translate to 17 percent tax rate,” said Carpenter. “I’m willing to support a compromise but this compromise has a 17 percent tax rate that isn’t going to go to the state.”

Carpenter suggested that the fees be smaller. Plocher noted there was still discussion to be had and the legislation still needs some modifications.

During the 2018 regular session, a House committee took three differing sports betting under considering, holding a public hearing on them but did not advance the legislation to the floor.