In an effort to push through legal sports betting in Missouri, an attorney has filed four petitions for ballot initiatives. These petitions are built to legalize both retail and mobile sports wagering.
This is the same attorney who filed nine Missouri sports betting ballot initiatives in 2021 alongside a coalition of professional sports teams. That same professional sports coalition is backing the four new petitions filed this year.
There is no indication how these new proposals will go yet, but it shows the pressure to add sports betting to the Show-Me State is only going to continue until it prevails.
Four petitions are filed to legalize sports wagering in Missouri
Earlier this year, the Missouri Legislature ended their session without giving the green light for legal sports betting; partly because of a particular senator that we will discuss in a moment.
With no action being taken by lawmakers, these proposals are focusing on petitioning in order to get sports betting on the ballot.
The professional sports teams coalition includes the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Blues and St. Louis City Soccer Club. That group is working alongside attorney Alixandra Cossette to push all four petitions along. Those petitions are identified like so:
All four proposals are generally the same outside of how many standalone mobile platforms will be allowed. The reason for this is to provide optionality through the approval process while still working toward the same goal.
Right now, the proposals are open for critiques and comments from the public. Once approved by the Secretary of State, the petitioners will begin canvassing for signatures proving the state’s voting body is in favor of expanded gambling.
Details of the proposals and the path to legalization
While the four proposals slightly differ in how many standalone digital sports betting licenses are going to be available as stated above, the rest of the details are the same.
The details state that professional sports teams will have access to apply for retail and digital sportsbook licenses. The leagues mentioned are:
- National Football League
- Major League Baseball
- National Basketball Association
- National Hockey League
- Women’s National Basketball Association
- National Women’s Soccer League
Additionally, each of Missouri’s casinos would have access to one license for a retail sportsbook and another for mobile sports wagering.
Where tax dollars would go
The proposed tax rate is 10% for sports betting, but there are other methods of getting money to the Show-Me State. There will be $5 million contributed annually to a new Compulsive Gambling Prevention Fund. Each license for retail sportsbooks will require an application fee of $250,000 and mobile sportsbooks will have to pay $500,000 for its license. All licenses would have to be renewed every five years.
The tax dollars generated from sports wagering would go toward funding education in the state while the licensing fees would go to the Compulsive Gambling Prevention Fund. Any surplus fees from sports betting would also be sent to the Compulsive Gaming Prevention Fund. The legal age for sports betting would be set at 21 years old and marketing to minors and those on exclusion lists would be prohibited.
If one of these proposals made its way to the ballot and were passed, sports wagering would become legal no later than the last day of 2025. Betting on college sports would also be allowed.
Where teams could put sportsbook locations
For professional sports teams, new zones would be created for stadiums that can hold at least 11,500 people. Within 400 yards of the stadiums that meet that criteria, professional sports teams can have one sportsbook anywhere within that zone. That means these teams do not have to make room within their stadiums for a new sportsbook and can instead use the area around them to do so.
If any of the petitions are approved by the Secretary of State, the only way to get the proposals on the ballot will be to gather 8% of registered voters in at least six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. That would mean the number of signatures needed would be 171,592. All those signatures would need to be submitted to the Secretary of State no later than May 5, 2024 which is six months before election day. If that can be accomplished, sports betting will be on the 2024 ballot in November.
While this proposal is comprehensive and appealing to many, it is impossible to not wonder what Senator Denny Hoskins might do to fight back.
Overcoming a particular Missouri Senator will be required to legalize sports betting
At every turn, Senator Hoskins has been front and center in the fight against sports betting. His reasoning has nothing to do with being against sports betting, but the fact that video lottery terminals have not been added to the different bills.
In order to keep sports betting legislation from passing in recent years, Hoskins has used the filibuster to soak up time during legislative sessions. Hoskins has gone as far as reading Ronald Reagan’s biography aloud to waste as much time as he could instead of allowing discourse about sports betting to take place.
This has led to tens of millions of tax dollars lost to other states. As the state’s beloved Chiefs played in the Super Bowl in 2023, sportsbooks lost out on an estimated $25 million in wagers from Missouri. GeoComply data showed over 250,000 unsuccessful attempts to place wagers over Super Bowl weekend. That led to many Missouri residents driving across state lines to Kansas or Illinois to place wagers.
There is no indication how Hoskins will go about opposing these petitions, but it would be foolish to think he would stop after all of these years of fighting against sports betting coming to Missouri.