Sports Betting Initiative Signature Verification Likely Coming In August

Written By Adam Hensley on May 31, 2024
A cardboard box with the phrase

Missouri sports fans will almost certainly have to wait a few more months to find out if a sports betting referendum will appear on the ballot this fall.

The Secretary of State’s Office finds it tedious to verify the 171,000 valid signatures collected by Winning for Missouri Education. The group turned in nearly double that amount on a few days before the May 5 deadline, ensuring it met the requirement.

The deadline for verification is July 30.

Digitizing signatures speeds up verification

Lawmakers’ continued failure to legalize Missouri sports betting spawned the signature drive by Winning for Missouri Education. It needed to collect a specific number of signatures from six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. The group said it more than met that requirement.

Officials at Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s Office are sorting the signatures, digitizing them, and approving the referendum’s language. They have four weeks from when they were turned in to complete the process. Next, the signatures will be sent to the appropriate county clerks, who will verify them. The clerks have until July 30 to approve them.

Digitalizing the signatures is relatively new but significantly speeds up the verification process. The technology allows clerks to see the signatures side-by-side on their computers instead of comparing what’s on the screen to a paper copy.

Still, the process can be tedious.

Republican Director of the Jackson County Board of Elections Tammy Brown told the Kansas City Beacon that her team can only afford five to seven minutes to verify each signature due to the sheer number of them.

“If we can’t find them on file, we move on. With all the petitions we get in, if we spend 10 to 15 minutes on every voter, we’d never finish.”

Sports betting referendum likely to pass

There appears to be solid support for legal sports betting in Missouri. If a referendum does make it onto the November ballot, it’s likely to pass, but nothing is certain.

Polls have produced conflicting results.

A survey of 1,830 Missouri registered voters by Remington Research Group for Missouri Scout showed that 60% opposed sports betting, with just 36% in support and 4% undecided.

An earlier poll conducted by FOX4 and Emerson College showed 62% favor sports betting in Missouri and 38% against. Park University Political Science Professor Matt Harris told FOX4 that support was seen across all political party affiliations.

“When you look at sports betting, it seems like there’s pretty broad support. If you look at the crosstabs there, Democrats support it, independents support it, and Republicans are a little lower but still, a majority of them support it, so it seems like there’s pretty broad support for sports betting in Missouri.”

Another poll conducted by Saint Louis University and YouGov showed 60% in support, 25% against and 14% undecided.

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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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