Lake Of The Ozarks Casino Proposal Likely Makes Ballot In Missouri

Written By Phil West on May 7, 2024
A close-up map of Missouri focusing on the Lake of the Ozarks

Missouri voters now appear poised to vote on two betting measures this November. An initiative to open a casino near the Lake of the Ozarks appears ready to join a sports betting referendum on November’s statewide ballot.

The Osage River Gaming & Convention group submitted more than 320,000 signatures in its effort to build a casino in the Ozarks. Now, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft will verify those signatures.

If the proposal passes, the riverboat casino would become the 14th in the state. On the other hand, nobody is making an effort to legalize Missouri online casinos.

Missouri Residents Could Be Voting on 4 Initiatives in November

The proposal would amend the Missouri Constitution to allow a casino along the Osage River. By comparison, the current gaming statutes in the constitution only permit casinos along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

Additionally, the constitution caps the number of brick-and-mortar casinos at 13. However, the question on the ballot could also ask voters if they want to expand that number to keep existing properties from closing.

The Bally’s-backed measure could become the fourth initiative on November’s ballot. In addition to the two gambling initiatives, voters will also consider enshrining abortion rights and raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Missouri requires the equivalent of 8% of the 2020 vote for governor in six of the state’s eight congressional districts, or roughly 171,000 signatures, for a ballot initiative to qualify for either the August or November ballot. Officials have indicated the count at the Secretary of State’s office won’t be finished before mid-summer.

Osage Nation Also Seeks to Build a Casino in Ozarks

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch story noted that the proposed casino may not be the only one in the Ozarks.

“The Osage Nation has been working for years to build a casino in Missouri. In 2021, the tribe announced it had submitted an application to the US Department of Interior for approval of a casino near the town of Lake Ozark. At the time, the tribe said it hoped a federal decision on whether the proposal complies with the US Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would take no more than two years.”

The tribe wants to build a $60 million-plus casino on its land, including a restaurant, sports bar, and meeting space.

On the Osage River Gaming & Convention proposal, Bally’s contributed about half of the $4.1 million cost of the signature-gathering drive. The casino resort would include a hotel, convention center, restaurants, and other attractions. Supporters estimate the project will create 700 to 800 jobs and bring in around $2.1 million annually in tax revenue. The money would be split between the local government and the Missouri Gaming Commission.

Supporters told the Post-Dispatch the convention center in particular is crucial for the area.

“Specifically, the new convention center is a much-needed addition that will benefit all of the existing businesses in the Tri County region and beyond.”

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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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