An effort by Missouri’s professional sports teams to legalize sports betting takes a step forward Tuesday as Secretary of State John Jay Ashcroft approved final ballot language for the campaign.
Now, the proposal organizers, Missouri Pro Sports Coalition, must secure signatures from hundreds of thousands of voters from across the state and place a question on the ballot in November.
Missouri sports teams have previously launched the effort as an alternative to the legislative path but faced many obstacles in the past two years.
Organizers must choose one of eight versions to put before voters
The Missouri Pro Sports Coalition filed eight proposed ballot proposals with slight variations aiming to change the state’s constitution via a referendum. All eight impose a 10% tax on wagers, which could generate an estimated $29 million for education.
The plan also calls for creating a $5 million problem gambling fund.
The proposal would allow each team and 13 Missouri casinos to offer sports betting on-site and online platforms, which would be accessible from across the state. A few versions allow up to four Missouri online sportsbooks to operate directly through the Missouri Gaming Commission.
The St. Louis Cardinals are part of the Missouri Pro Sports Coalition. Cardinals President, Bill DeWitt III, said the next step is meeting with the Missouri sportsbook operators to discuss which version to go forward with.
They will then map out a strategy for collecting signatures.
Missouri teams taking matters into their own hands
The latest attempt to bring legalized sports betting to the Show-Me State is led by a coalition of Missouri’s professional sports teams. The six teams behind the sports betting efforts are the:
- St. Louis Cardinals baseball team
- St. Louis Blues hockey team
- St. Louis City Soccer Club
- Kansas City Chiefs football team
- Kansas City Current women’s soccer team
- Kansas City Royals baseball team
The coalition believes legal sports betting will help further engagement with fans, as well as generate additional revenue for the state.
After years of failed attempts, the teams don’t want to wait for the Legislature to act. They are turning to the initiative petition process to be put straight to voters. A similar petition filed in 2022 failed to get enough signatures for the ballot.
To succeed this time, the petitions must secure at least 170,000 signatures from voters from all over the state. More importantly, the ballot language must get approval from the Missouri secretary of state.
According to several recent surveys, the 2024 signature process could be a struggle.