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Major League Baseball backs Hoskins’ sports betting bill


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Of the five bills filed in the General Assembly to legalize sports betting, Sen. Denny Hoskins’ is the way to go, according to Major League Baseball.

SB 1013, debated in a Senate committee Wednesday morning, is designed to authorize sports betting in Missouri’s riverboat casinos and on the internet while implementing consumer protections and sports integrity requirements.

“My job is to protect the integrity of the game,” said Bryan Seeley, MLB’s Senior Vice President of Investigations and Deputy General Counsel. “I’m not telling you to legalize sports betting, but if you are going to do it, this is the bill to do it.”

Missouri is home to two major league baseball teams: the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals.

Under the legislation, the governing bodies of sports would receive 1 percent of all bets. This administrative fee pays for the sport’s governing body’s cost of maintaining the integrity of its sporting events. Seely called the compensation appropriate considering the teams are offering the entertainment.

The legislation also creates penalties for those found guilty of match-fixing and any action associated with the corruption of a sporting event. No athlete, coach or official would be able to bet on their own game.

“It’s an issue baseball has studied for a very long time, and our belief is Senate Bill 1013, sponsored by Senator Hoskins, contains the necessary, powerful combination of extremely strong integrity protections and mandated requirements for casinos to work closely with our league to monitor betting for potential manipulation,” Kevin Uhlich, senior vice president for the Kansas City Royals, said in a statement.

Uhlich says the bill provides appropriate requirements for real-time recordkeeping; age verification; the use of official, indisputable league data; the ability for sports leagues to opt-out of problematic forms of betting; combating false or deceptive advertising; mandated cooperation with Major League Baseball investigations; real-time data sharing; and casinos to share costs associated with integrity monitoring and offset the risk assumed by the sports leagues, who make possible the profits reaped by the casinos.

Hoskins estimates between $18 million and $40 million in new revenue could be brought in to the state.

The bill would impose a 12% tax on the adjusted gross receipts received from wagers on sporting events. It would also require facilities to have a license — which would have a $10,000 application fee and an annual $5,000 renewal fee — to administer sports bets over the internet. It is the taxes and fees in HB 1013 that has the casino industry backing a separate bill.

Under Hoskins’ bill, sports betting would only be offered if the Missouri Gaming Commission determines that federal law does not prohibit such sports wagering.