Poker news | Apr 20, 2021
Missouri Proposes Bill for Legal Online Poker and Casino Games
By RTR Dennis
A bill has been introduced in Missouri that would legalize online poker, casino games, and sports betting.
Republican Rep. Dan Houx has sponsored HB 1364, which proposes that each of Missouri’s 13 casinos be able to open three internet gambling skins. If passed, this legislation would allow for a maximum of 39 skins in the market.
Three other bills are currently in the state Senate that would legalize online sports gambling. Houx’s legislation is the only one that also includes poker and casino games.
Missouri Gaming Industry Mostly Limited to Waterways
Missouri was an early hotbed for card games, with riverboat gamblers playing various types of games in the 1800s. Not much has changed since those days, though, with the Show Me State still confining casino gaming to waterways.
Most MO casinos are riverboats located on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Few land-based casino exceptions exist, with St. Louis’ Lumiere Place Casino being one of the rare outliers.
HB 1364 would finally see more gaming spread throughout the state. If passed, it would let people legally enjoy online poker, casino games, and sports wagering.
The fact that each land-based casino can offer three skins could potentially create lots of opportunities. It’s highly unlikely that every Missouri casino will exercise its right to run three skins. However, some of the bigger gaming establishments may do so.
Interstate Compacts Are a Possibility
Houx’s legislation doesn’t just stop at regulating internet poker. It also creates for the possibility of interstate poker.
As it now stands, the US online market is fairly broken up. New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware are all in an iPoker compact. Michigan and Pennsylvania, meanwhile, are operating on their own. West Virginia hasn’t had any operators go live yet.
Missouri would bring another sizable player into the market and, potentially, into the Delaware/New Jersey/Nevada compact.
It features 6 million residents, including 2.8 million in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Although not as big as Pennsylvania (12.8m), Michigan (10m), or New Jersey (8.9m), it still has a respectable population.
These four states in an interstate compact alone would represent over 11% of the US population. If the other states with legal internet poker joined, the entire compact would represent over 15% of Americans.
Of course, a lot still needs to happen before any of this becomes reality. However, Missouri legalizing iPoker and joining a pact would be another piece of the puzzle.
Other Elements of Missouri’s Online Gambling Bill
The bill from Hoax features reasonable licensing and taxation elements. Operators would pay a $50,000 licensing fee, which, for Missouri’s population, is low compared to most other states.
It would also tax online casinos and poker rooms at just 12% of their annual revenue. This rate would be the lowest internet casino tax rate, undercutting New Jersey and West Virginia (both 15%). 83% of the tax revenue would go towards the state’s education fund.
Many know that online poker is a skill game that can deliver long-term profits to the right players. Strangely enough, though, Hoax mentioned online Caribbean stud, craps, and Pai Gow poker as also being skill games.
While these games do contain skill, they also provide the house with a long-term advantage over even the most-adept players.
Will Missouri Ultimately Legalize Online Gaming?
Four total bills are floating around the state legislature. Again, the state Senate has three internet sports betting bills in front of them, while the House has the all-around gambling package.
With many other states legalizing new forms of iGambling lately, Missouri is likely to approve one of the bills. The hope among poker and casino players is that Hoax’s legislation will be the one to get through.
However, Hoax’s bill won’t have much buzz for a while. It’s still awaiting assignment to a House committee. From here, it’ll have to pass the House before being considered by the Senate.