The sports-betting bill filed in the Missouri General Assembly by Rep. Cody Smith this past week received the backing of two of the state's most prominent sports organizations.
Smith, R-Carthage, pre-filed House Bill 119 in December after the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 struck down a federal law that prevented states from legalizing sports betting. Smith's bill would allow the state to authorize groups to offer bets on professional and some high-level college sports.
Last week, the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals, the state's Major League Baseball teams, as well as a league representative, announced in a joint news release that they support Smith's bill.
Bryan Seeley, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for MLB, testified in front of a House committee this past week, expressing his and the league's support for the bill.
Seeley said the legislation would “protect baseball and its fans by providing consumer protections and a strong regulatory framework” for sports betting.
Smith's bill would require that groups or companies offering sports bets under the new law notify the Missouri Gaming Commission of any illegal action or bets by the companies or bettors or in the event of any "abnormal wagering activity or patterns that may indicate a concern regarding the integrity of a sporting event or events," as well as a host of other potential issues.
“Legalized sports betting legislation in Missouri must protect the game of baseball and its fans from the risks of corruption associated with sports betting," William DeWitt III, president of the Cardinals, said in a statement included in the teams' announcement. "HB 119 contains the right balance of protections and regulations to accomplish that goal while ensuring that Missouri creates a safe and ultimately successful sports betting market. For these reasons, it has our support.”
Kevin Uhlich, senior vice president of business for the Kansas City Royals, also cited the bill's proposed safeguards as reasons for support.
“We believe any law on sports betting must include necessary regulations and requirements to guard against any potential corruption," his statement said. "House Bill 119 is the only legislation that clears the high bar our fans, our sport, and our state deserve.”
Smith's bill proposes a tax of 6.25 percent on receipts from wagers to go into the state's Gaming Proceeds for Education Fund and "royalties" for the sports' governing bodies.
It proposes one-quarter of 1 percent of gaming revenues from bets on Football Bowl Subdivision and Division I basketball go to the National Collegiate Athletics Association to be paid to member schools for compliance and that three-quarters of a percent of revenues on professional sports wagers go to the sports' governing bodies, such as MLB.
The bill is still in the committee stage.