Missouri Sports Betting Campaign Reports Strong Public Support for Referendum

Posted on: April 18, 2024, 01:17h. 

Last updated on: April 18, 2024, 01:17h.

The Missouri sports betting campaign canvassing the Show-Me State asking residents to lend their John Hancocks to a petition seeking to initiate a constitutional ballot referendum in November says it’s fielding robust support.

Missouri sports betting gambling
The odds continue to shorten that Missouri voters will be asked about sports betting when they head to the polls in November. The sports betting campaign is reporting strong signature support amid canvassing. (Image: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Winning for Missouri Education reported yesterday that it has secured the signatures of more than 300,000 Missourians for the sports betting drive. For an initiated constitutional amendment to qualify for the 2024 general election ballot, a campaign must secure a minimum of 171,592 signatures.

As the campaign approaches our goal of putting this on the November ballot, Missouri is a step closer to allowing Missouri adults to bet on sports while generating tens of millions in annual funding for our classrooms,” said campaign spokesperson Jack Cardetti.

Campaigns must submit obtained signatures for validation to the Missouri Secretary of State by May 5. The sports betting campaign says it expects to turn in 325,000 signatures by the deadline.

Sports Betting Push

Winning for Missouri Education was organized last year by the MLB St. Louis Cardinals in partnership with three of the state’s other professional sports franchises — the NFL Kansas City Chiefs, MLB Kansas City Royals, and NHL St. Louis Blues.

Missouri remains a sports betting outlier in the central Midwest, as the state’s continued ban on sports gambling is in contrast to seven of its border states that have legal sportsbooks. Only Oklahoma shares a border, a small one at that, with Missouri and also remains on the sports betting sidelines.

The Winning for Missouri Education campaign is being bankrolled by DraftKings, FanDuel, and Betfair. The sportsbook operators have collectively invested about $6 million into the initiative.

If Missouri State Secretary Jay Ashcroft’s (R) office validates the required number of signatures to push the sports betting referendum question to the November ballot and a simple majority of voters back the initiative, Missouri will join nearly 40 other states in legalizing regulated gambling on professional and college sports.

Many Missouri lawmakers have been campaigning for sports betting in recent legislative sessions, and the odds of a bill passing seemed good in 2022 until state Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) filibustered its passage. Hoskins has repeatedly tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to tie the legalization of video lottery terminals and so-called no-chance skill games to sports betting. But his opposition has nonetheless prevented a sports betting bill from passing the Missouri General Assembly.

Everybody else around the country’s doing something that we can’t do because a few folks want slot machines in gas stations,” state Sen. Caleb Rowden, (R-Columbia) commented in February. 

Show-Me the Sports Betting Details

Hoskins is opposed to the ballot campaign that seeks to bypass the legislature to legalize sports betting. He said this week that the initiative would only set aside $5 million for problem gambling, an amount he feels is too low to offset the societal issues sports gambling might bring.

If the sports betting question passes and the Missouri Constitution is amended to allow sports betting, the state’s casinos would qualify to pursue both retail and online sports betting privileges. The state’s six professional sports teams would also qualify to partner with third-party sports wagering operators.

The referendum proposes a 10% tax on gross sports betting proceeds, most of which would be earmarked for state education programs — hence the campaign name. Sports betting supporters project the state could receive nearly $29 million annually from a mature online and retail sports betting market.