New Poll Indicates Close Call For Sports Betting Ballot Proposal

Written By Adam Hensley on June 26, 2024 - Last Updated on June 27, 2024
A man casts a vote with a paper ballot

Missouri lawmakers failed to make any progress on any of the several sports betting bills up for discussion during the 2024 legislative session. Now, the future of Missouri sports betting is in the hands of its voters.

However, those voters don’t appear to be sure of which way to vote.

In May, a political action committee financially backed by FanDuel and DraftKings and supported by Missouri’s pro sports teams submitted about 340,000 signatures supporting its sports betting ballot initiative. State officials are verifying the signatures, but since state law only requires about half that number, it’s expected to be up for a vote in November.

In short, the initiative would simply legalize online and retail sports betting for commercial operators.

Most previous polling data indicated that the state’s citizens were heavily in favor of legalization. But what was once viewed as a sure thing looks more like anyone’s guess in the latest Emerson College Polling/The Hill poll.

New poll says more than 1/4th of voters are undecided

That poll showed that 38.3% of residents favor legal sports betting in Missouri compared to 35.4% against it. A whopping 26.3% of residents said they still aren’t undecided.

Emerson College senior polling director Matt Taglia told local media outlets this is a wakeup call to sports betting proponents. It will take a new marketing campaign to educate voters on what is up for a vote.

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

Missouri is still waiting to see if sports betting will be on the November ballot. State officials will announce the verification process results by August 13.

Despite the doubt cast by the new poll, Taglia believes the initiative is more likely to pass than not.

“There are some pluralities here who support sports betting,” Taglia said. “If it were on the ballot, they would vote to pass it today.”

The 38.3% number from the new poll is noteworthy. The poll still shows more people are in favor of the proposal than against it, but the results paint a much different picture than previous polls.

Previous data showed sports betting was wildly popular

Emerson College and Kansas City’s FOX4 conducted one of the first sports betting surveys in February.

The poll said a whopping 62% of Missouri voters favored legalizing sports betting to help fund the state’s education. More than 1,800 people participated in the poll, and its creators said the margin of error was +/-2%. In other words, sports betting appeared to be a lock to pass.

The following month, Saint Louis University and YouGov partnered for another survey. They collected responses from about 900 Show Me State residents. Similar to the poll the prior month, this report found that 60% of respondents were in favor of sports betting, 25% were against it, and 14% said they weren’t sure yet.

Last two polls show some doubt

In May, the Remington Research Group conducted a poll for Missouri Scout, a subscription-based news service that reports on state politics. That poll showed that just 36% of respondents were in favor of sports betting, and 60% would vote ‘no’ on sports betting in November.

It’s certainly a change from the first two polls.

According to the site, Missouri Scout is run by Dave Drebes, an “active St. Louisan, musician and writer.”

“Every morning readers learn the latest developments, hear the hot rumors, and glean non-partisan analysis that can’t be found anywhere else,” the website reads,

The Missouri Scout certainly doesn’t have the same following as the two previous polls. But still, it shows some pessimism around sports betting. And that pessimism hasn’t disappeared, as evident in Emerson College Polling and The Hill’s latest findings.

What does this mean for the November election?

If anything, this poll shows that Missouri isn’t completely on board with sports wagering within state lines. But that indicates a lack of cohesion in the electorate, not a lack of demand.

Last year, GeoComply, a company used by sportsbooks to geolocate their customer and ensure they are within the legal jurisdiction, blocked roughly 24.5 million sports bets from Missouri IP addresses. This year, the company blocked several million wagers during the Kansas City Chiefs‘ Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers.

This latest poll shows that even if the pessimism in the third poll was overblown, it’s certainly there.

Photo by Shutterstock
Adam Hensley Avatar
Written by
Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

View all posts by Adam Hensley