PAC Continues Collecting Signatures To Bypass Lawmakers On MO Sports Betting

Written By Hill Kerby on March 8, 2024 - Last Updated on March 11, 2024
A picture of someone gathering signatures for a story about the PAC getting signatures for the Missouri sports betting ballot initiative.

Multiple attempts to pass sports betting legislation in Missouri have failed despite support from the state’s residents, sports teams and casinos.

But the ballot initiative is another path to legalizing sports betting in Missouri. A political action committee expects to collect the needed signatures by May 5 to get a sports wagering referendum before voters in November.

At the same time, efforts at the Missouri General Assembly to legalize sports betting seem destined to fail again this session.

New House bill legalizes VLTs as well as sports betting

The Missouri House has been able to pass legislation to legalize Missouri sports betting the last two years, only for the bills to die in the Senate. State Rep. Dan Houx’s latest effort, House Bill 2331, awaits a full House vote before making its way to the Senate.

Houx’s 2022 and 2023 bills passed through the House but met obstructionist state Sen. Denny Hoskins in the Senate. Hoskins refuses to sign off on sports betting legislation that does not also legalize video lottery terminals. VLTs are the slots-like gaming machines found in restaurants, bars and gas stations across Missouri.

House Minority Leader Rep. Crystal Quade recently sponsored House Bill 2835 in an effort to placate Hoskins. The bill would legalize sports betting along with VLTs, which would be taxed at 33%. The problem, however, is that most Missouri lawmakers seem opposed to legalizing VLTs.

Quade said it’s critical to regulate the machines.

“Caught up in the Republican infighting has also been the illegal video lottery machines popping up in every corner of our state. We need to regulate them. Along with regulation comes a chance to help bring money for law enforcement, our veterans, and our severely underfunded public schools.”

Petition needs just under 172K signatures to make November’s ballot

And if the legislative process fails again? Missourians 62% of whom, according to a recent poll, support legal sports betting – would find themselves on the sidelines for yet another year.

That’s another year of missing out on March Madness betting or wagering on the Kansas City Chiefs as they seek a third straight Super Bowl victory.

Missouri sports teams, major sportsbooks and casinos aren’t taking that risk. Last year, all six Missouri professional sports teams joined with five of the state’s six casinos to form the Missouri Sports Betting Alliance (SBA). The group created a ballot initiative to get a sports betting referendum in front of voters in November.

Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft approved the language of the SBA’s proposal in December. The group was tasked with acquiring 171,592 signatures six months before Election Day (Nov. 5)

PAC working to collect 300K signatures

Enter the political action committee, Winning for Missouri Education. The PAC has taken over the front lines of the process and recently announced it had gathered 100,000 signatures.

Winning For Missouri Education’s effort to legalize sports betting comes from the initiative, which allocates 100% of tax revenue going to public education. The PAC has set a goal of collecting 300,000 signatures by May 5.

Sports betting titans DraftKings and FanDuel have contributed several millions of dollars to the PAC. Interestingly, no sports teams have contributed to the PAC.

If the initiative gets enough signatures, it will be on the ballot in November for Missouri voters to decide the issue once and for all. That is unless lawmakers somehow succeed in legalizing sports betting this spring.

Photo by PlayMissouri
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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