The debate on whether to legalize sports gambling and how to do it has been going on in Missouri since last year. The state’s legislators widely discussed the issue during the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions, but they did not succeed in moving a bill.

Among the problems that arose during this year’s session were the inclusion of integrity fees and a data mandate clause in House Bill 119.

However, Missouri’s lawmakers appear determined to legalize regulated wagering during the 2020 session, and they are approaching the matter more cautiously this time.

On Thursday, the House Special Interim Committee on Gaming held a hearing that was attended by gambling operators, lawyers, research companies, and other stakeholders from the industry. Among those in attendance were representatives from FanDuel, William Hill, Boyd Gaming, DraftKings, and Penn National Gaming.

Industry Experts Predict Millions in Revenue from MO Sports Betting 

In his testimony to the Committee, Chris Krafcik of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming said that regulated wagering could generate up to $289 million in annual revenue when fully operational. Chris stated that these numbers could be achieved if the state allowed both in-person sports betting at licensed casinos and statewide mobile wagering.

His revenue projection for a model that allowed on-site wagering only is $95 million annually.

Chris said that his estimates are based on regulated sports betting activities taking place in other states.

Concerning taxation, the expert pointed to West Virginia’s tax rate of 10% of the adjusted gross revenue and $100,000 initial license fee as an ideal example.

Operators Say No to Integrity Fees 

Penn National’s Head of Sportsbook Operations, Scot McClintic, is one of the operators who testified during the hearing.

In his presentation, the executive said that his company could not afford to pay the leagues more than it already does for data. Scot noted that Penn National has a deal with Sportradar, who supplies the operator with official data from the MLB, NFL, and NBA.

He went on to state that companies should be allowed to strike additional sports betting partnerships with the league, but it should not be a requirement.

Scot supported his argument by explaining that paying those fees would raise the cost of running regulated sportsbooks, forcing the operators to adjust their odds prices and offer higher lines. He noted that this would make legal sportsbooks less attractive to bettors, and it would drive them back to the illegal sports gambling market.

The Committee is set to convene for another hearing on November 7, and representatives from the MLB are expected to testify about integrity fees and official data mandate during the session.

Supporting Mobile Betting 

The only issue that seems to draw everyone’s support, including the leagues, lawmakers, and operators, is the subject of allowing statewide mobile betting.

The stakeholders also agree that Missouri residents should be allowed to register their online accounts remotely if the government is pressing on fighting illegal sportsbooks.

Some states like Rhode Island and Nevada require bettors to visit physical sportsbooks for in-person registration of online accounts.

This law has proven to be a massive limitation for the RI online sports betting market, which launched last month. According to the state Lottery, about 12,000 people have downloaded the app since its launch, but 55% of these accounts are yet to be activated.