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Governor puts brakes on latest sports betting push in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson shut the door Monday on efforts by the Missouri House to legalize sports betting.

Lawmakers are back in the Capitol as part of a special session called by the Republican governor to deal with a cut in state income tax rates.

Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones said that means sports betting legislation is not relevant to the subject of the special session.

“Sports betting is clearly beyond the call and does not relate to Governor Parson’s topics in the call. I do not anticipate sports betting being a part of special session,” Jones said.

Her comments came hours before a House panel was set to debate the latest version of a sports wagering package mirroring one that failed to advance in the Senate during the spring legislative session.

The measure calls for Missouri to join neighboring states in making betting on sports legal.

Advocates say there is an appetite for sports gambling in Missouri. After Kansas launched its sports betting program earlier this month, more than 16,000 people in Missouri were blocked from accessing the betting platform on their mobile devices, according to an analysis by GeoComply, which provides geolocation and cybersecurity services.

Along with offering betting in the state’s existing casinos, professional sports teams like the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and the St. Louis Blues hockey team could have betting windows at their facilities.

Other provisions include initial application fees up to $150,000 for providers, a tax rate of 10% of adjusted gross receipts and an annual license renewal fee no larger than $50,000. The bill also calls for a $10,000 fee to cover the cost of a full reinvestigation of the provider every four years.

During Monday’s hearing, Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, acknowledged the governor might block the legislation from moving forward but said it’s worth keeping the issue at the forefront of the Legislature.

“Missouri is losing out on revenue,” Houx told the panel.

Democratic Rep. Ashley Aune, D-Kansas City, said she’s heard complaints from constituents that the state is lagging behind its neighbors.

“Missouri should have done this already,” Aune said.

While the House last year approved a similar package, the issue has been stuck in the Senate over disagreements on how to rid the state of illegal slot machines that have flooded the state in recent years.

Jones said the governor believes the issue should be taken up during the next regular legislative session, which begins in January.

The legislation is House Bill 4.

Originally posted at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 19.

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