Should State Get Involved In Regulating Sports Wagering?
Sports betting in Missouri is legal and allowed by the state. The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that sports betting is a right, not a privilege. There are several groups in Missouri that offer sports betting including but not limited to sportsbooks, telemarketing companies, Internet sites, banks and credit unions. The law specifies that all licenses must be in effect and that all activities related to sports betting must be in compliance with state and local laws. It is important to note that there may be some conflicts among the states regarding legalities.
As an example, according to the St. Louis post Dispatch, Missouri House Minority Leader Tim Jones (R) introduced House Bill 715 to overturn the newly-enacted statute that prohibits licensed sports book operators in Missouri from facilitating sports betting through software or any other electronic means. According to the report, Jones believes that the current law violates the rights of sports book operators to collect revenues from customers who bet outside of their state. He introduced the bill to be filed in the Ways and Means Committee.
The Post Dispatch reports that Jones wants to allow sports betting on college games. He proposes that the NCAA tournament should be made available for wagering and that the games would be televised. Opponents argue that there has been widespread college football gambling before the NCAA tournament was created. The House minority leader also proposes that Congress regulate sports betting more stringently and that there be uniform regulations across the board.
Missourians can now wager on a wider variety of sports and events thanks to the opening up of online platforms like the Sports Betting Commission website. According to the site, Missouri is the eighth state to legalize sports betting. The opening up of online platforms such as the commission’s website, allows bettors from around the world to place bets on sports that they enjoy. According to the newspaper, some Missourians enjoy playing sports that do not necessarily involve wagering. Such individuals could therefore profit from placing bets on sports events that they enjoy but which are not necessarily part of major games like football or basketball.
However, the rise in popularity of sportsbooks along with an increase in competition has led to several conflicts between them and the state’s Department of Revenue. The Revenue Department is opposed to the opening of online sportsbooks because it feels that it encourages gambling. The sportsbook operators argue that the legality of the transactions is not the issue. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the DOR will be hosting hearings on the matter and will be looking into the activities of the Missouri bookies during the past few years.
Several Missouri politicians have introduced bills to remove the tax incentives offered to online gambling. They include state Representative Joe Ferguson (D-St. Louis), State Senator Maria Chapena (D-Missouri), state Representative Todd Akin (R-St. Louis), and several members of the House and Senate. The Missouri Gaming Commission also announced that it would be introducing a bill to remove the tax incentive for sportsbooks, effective July 1st.
The controversy over sports betting in Missouri may further hurt the state in its efforts to promote e-sports. Several high profile politicians and sports book owners have threatened to leave the state if the tax incentives are removed. Nevada is working on its own plan to provide sports betting sites with similar tax breaks and incentives that it offers to online poker and nevada gaming sites. Earlier this month, state representatives addressed the issue in the statehouse, calling for an investigation of the preferential treatment given to Nevada gambling sites.
The proposed law would essentially allow the same advantages that are currently available to bookmakers on state-owned gambling facilities, including sports betting, to be extended to private players as well. According to sources in the industry, the current congressional leadership’s plan could mean big trouble for the state’s regulated casinos. “The whole idea behind e-gaming in the state is that states should encourage people to come in to casinos to gamble, not take advantage of them,” said Steve Williams, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association. “If you give a free tax credit to the casinos, there’s no way that they’re going to say ‘no’ when it comes to sports betting.” Williams went on to warn that the new law could open the door for casinos in Missouri to “unfairly” discriminate against gaming enthusiasts.