An initiative to legalize sports betting in Missouri took a step forward this week with the formal approval of language that could potentially appear on the ballot next year. This move is being spearheaded by a coalition of local sports teams including MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, and two professional soccer clubs among others.
Organizers will need to gather over 170,000 signatures from state residents in order to place the measure on the ballot. If a majority of voters approve, the language would be added to the Missouri Constitution, after which the Missouri Gaming Commission would set up regulations to govern sportsbook operations.
Bill DeWitt III, president of the Cardinals and a leader of the effort, stated that organizers will meet with members of the mobile gaming industry to determine which version of the ballot measure to pursue. However, a poll conducted by the Remington Research Group found that 54% of likely voters opposed legalized sports betting, compared to 26% who supported it.
Betting would be restricted to those over 21, with sportsbook revenues taxed at a rate of 10% under all versions of the proposed language. Sportsbook licenses are expected to generate between $10.75 million and $12.75 million, with estimated state tax revenues ranging from $0 to $28.9 million annually.
While the legislature previously failed to pass a new sports betting law, the initiative aims to move forward with a public vote. However, they stated that they will drop their push if lawmakers take action when the legislature reconvenes in January. State Sen. Denny Hoskins was blamed for the stalemate, as he held out for the state to pass a legal framework for controversial “skill gaming” machines.
Overall, the push for legalizing sports betting in Missouri faces opposition but remains on track for a potential appearance on the ballot next year.