Sports Betting PAC Claims Enough Signatures To Put Issue On Ballot

Written By Adam Hensley on April 3, 2024 - Last Updated on April 8, 2024
A picture of a list of signatures for a story about a PAC claiming it has enough signatures to put sports betting on the ballot in Missouri.

There’s a good chance Missouri sports betting will appear on the ballot this November.

If you attended the Kansas City Royals‘ opening day game, you may have seen people collecting signatures outside Kauffman Stadium. Their goal? Get enough signatures so that sports wagering is on this fall’s ballot.

And according to Winning for Missouri Education, they’ve already hit the minimum number of signatures required.

FOX 4’s Dave D’Marko said the group expects to announce soon that it has collected 250,000 signatures. That’s more than the 180,000 needed for sports betting to appear on the November ballot.

The group hopes to secure 300,000 signatures just to be safe.

‘It’s time for Missourians to act directly’

Missouri sports betting remains illegal, but it’s not from a lack of effort. Sports betting measures have cleared the Missouri House in the last two years only to be killed in the Senate. The same is expected in this session of the General Assembly. The ballot petition remains the best chance to legalize sports betting in the Show Me State this year.

Erin Schrimpf, a Winning for Missouri Education Campaign consultant, told FOX 4 that it should be up to Missouri residents to decide if they want sports betting.

“We think it’s time for Missourians to act directly on this question.”

More than 430,000 Missouri residents attempted to place bets on this year’s Super Bowl featuring the home-state Kansas City Chiefs. That was a 51% increase from the number of people who attempted to bet in 2023.

The Chiefs, along with the other professional sports teams in Missouri, teamed up to help collect signatures. The Missouri Sports Betting Alliance has turned into a major player in the push for legalizing sports betting. DraftKings and FanDuel have also helped fund the effort.

Missouri residents crossing into neighboring states to bet on sports

While Missouri residents cannot place wagers, they can travel into a neighboring state (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky) to do so. Geolocation technology within the sportsbook apps makes sure that residents are within a state that allows legal sports betting.

One popular spot is crossing into Kansas off I-435. There’s an off ramp where cars will park for a few minutes after crossing directly over the Kansas border. The geolocation technology picks up their location, allows them to place their wagers legally, and then they head back into Missouri.

It’s easy for sports bettors, but it also means they are helping to fuel neighboring states’ economies, Missouri resident Annalise Hombs told FOX 4.

“We’ll go off the highway, place a bet and come back. (Other states) are getting the revenue, but all our people are going over there. I think we need to have sports betting.”

Royals fan Cathleen Ferro echoed that sentiment.

“Why give the sports betting money to Kansas? I’d rather be able to do it from my home.”

Where sports betting stands in Missouri

Winning for Missouri Education must turn in the required signatures by May 5. If it does, sports betting legalization will be up to voters to decide in November. It would be a big win for advocates.

At the same time, four sports betting bills are still alive with eight weeks left in this year’s legislative session.

There’s SB 824, authored by Missouri Sen. Denny Hoskins, which includes the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs). Historically, Hoskins has been a self-proclaimed “obstructionist” when it comes to pairing the two issues together, and in turn, no clean sports betting bill has ever passed.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer‘s SB 852 stands as that “clean” sports betting bill, with no attachment of VLTs. Luetkemeyer does not believe his bill, nor any of the other three, will pass this year. But he feels good for sports betting’s chances next year.

“I remain optimistic that if we come back next session and we have a new Senate – or a different looking Senate than we do right now – we can pass a clean sports wagering bill.”

Rep. Dan Houx introduced HB 2331, which would legalize sports betting without a VLT component as well. Minority Leader Rep. Crystal Quade authored HB 2835, which includes the legalization of VLTs.

Photo by PlayMissouri
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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.

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