Missouri Sports Betting Referendum Expected to Be Close, Poll Concludes

Posted on: June 25, 2024, 10:50h. 

Last updated on: June 25, 2024, 01:30h.

Missourians will likely vote for the next US president this November, and also whether they support the authorization of retail and online sports betting.

Missouri sports betting referendum
Mascots of pro sports teams based in Missouri on May 2, 2024, help deliver voter signature boxes for a campaign seeking to legalize sports betting through a November 2024 ballot referendum. New polling suggests the sports betting question outcome could be neck-and-neck. (Image: AP)

Missouri State Secretary Jay Ashcroft’s (R) office is currently validating the more than 340K signatures that the Winning for Missouri Education campaign submitted in early May. The resident signatures lend support to a statewide sports gambling referendum that would amend the Missouri Constitution to permit sports betting.

New polling from Emerson College and The Hill suggests the outcome of the sports betting question will be razor-thin should the referendum reach voters.

The survey concluded about 38% of likely voters would vote in favor of the measure while 35% would reject it. About 26% said they weren’t sure at this time. 

Messaging Needs Improvement

Matt Taglia, the poll’s senior director, said in a release that proponents of legal sports betting in the Show-Me State might be smart to rethink their campaign strategy.

Winning for Missouri Education is supported by Missouri’s professional sports teams, including the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, MLB’s Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals, the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, and MLS’ Kansas City Current and St. Louis City soccer clubs. DraftKings and FanDuel have also bankrolled the initiative.

I think there’s some messaging work to do here if you’re on the side of passing sports betting in Missouri,” Taglia said. “I don’t think folks necessarily know what all it entails but a lot of them are, in principle, supportive of the idea.”

The question that would go before voters would ask if they support allowing sportsbooks at the state’s 13 riverboat casinos. The casinos would be allowed to operate an online sports wagering platform, too.

The retail sports betting privileges would extend to the state’s professional sports stadiums and arenas. Those venues would also be allowed to operate an online sportsbook skin.

The Missouri Gaming Commission would be allowed to issue two online sportsbook licenses that would not be tethered to a riverboat or sports stadium.

The referendum would require the first $5 million the state receives from sports gambling to be directed to problem gambling programs. The remaining tax benefit would support K-12 public education.

If the sports betting question is approved, state lawmakers would need to determine licensing fees for the sportsbook rights and a state tax on oddsmakers’ gross revenue.

Signatures Needed

For the sports betting question to reach the November ballot, Ashcroft’s office must validate a minimum of 171,592 of the submitted signatures.

The process is tedious, as it involves the secretary’s office transmitting scanned copies of the signatures to county election authorities for verification. County officials compare the scan with the voter’s signature on record that’s used to allow them to vote when signing in at their polling place.

If Ashcroft’s office finds there are enough validated signatures, the state secretary will issue a “Certificate of Sufficiency” that moves the petition to the ballot for the general election.

Missouri is bordered by eight states — Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. All but Oklahoma has some form of legal sports betting.