Missouri Sports Betting Ballot Proposal Ready For Signature Gathering

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Missouri sports betting

An effort to place Missouri sports betting on the 2024 ballot is another step closer to reality.

Secretary of State John (Jay) Ashcroft approved Missouri sports betting ballot initiative language last week. Now, the Missouri Pro Sports Coalition, organizers of the proposals, must collect at least 170,000 signatures before May 5 to put the question before voters in November.

The sports teams launched the effort as an alternative to the legislative route, which has run into a significant roadblock the past two years. While there is another legislative session before the 2024 election, all signs point to Sen. Denny Hoskins derailing sports betting legislation because of his desire to legalize video lottery terminals.

“We would prefer to achieve this goal through the legislative process and will continue to work with stakeholders to advance a responsible sports wagering law to that end,” St. Louis Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said when the proposals were filed in September. “We believe that this initiative petition language provides for a reasonable and responsible framework for the legalization of sports wagering that will, collectively, serve the best interests of all Missourians.”

Missouri sports betting ballot question

There are eight approved sports betting ballot initiative proposals with slight variations. The group behind the push will meet with sportsbook operators to determine the best option before moving forward with a single petition. The Cardinals, who are championing the effort, declined further comment this week.

All eight would implement a 10% tax on sports betting revenue. The proposals all give the state’s teams and casinos licenses, and license fees vary between proposals.

A few of the versions also allow up to four online sportsbooks direct access to the market through the Missouri Gaming Commission. If successful, the proposals all set a start date of no later than Dec. 31, 2025.

Are voters up for sportsbooks in Missouri? 

A similar petition was filed in 2022 and failed to gain enough signatures for the ballot. Recent surveys suggest the 2024 signature process could also be an uphill battle.

A February Saint Louis University/YouGov poll found 35% of Missourians agree sports betting should be legal. Last week, the Associated Press cited a more recent Remington Research Group study that found 26% of voters supported sports betting legalization.

Legislative failures in Missouri

Sports betting legislation in the past two legislative sessions started strong, with proposals backed by professional sports teams, Missouri casinos and national sportsbook operators. Rep. Dan Houx successfully navigated the bills through the House, and confirmed Tuesday he will attempt the same bill next session.

Once in the Senate, however, Hoskins kept the sports betting legislation from succeeding. The Senator has pledged “to be an obstructionist until I get my way.” 

Hoskins has received multiple donations throughout his career from VLT companies that want the slot machine-like devices legalized in Missouri. The issue is a non-starter with other legislators in the state.

Missouri teams want sports betting

The six professional sports teams in the Show-Me State are behind the sports betting efforts. They believe legalized sports betting will help further engage with fans and help generate additional revenue.

In addition to the cardinals, the Missouri Pro Sports Coalition is made up of the: