Missouri Poised to Legalize Sports Betting Following Mass Signature Drive

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In a remarkable stride towards the legalization of sports betting in Missouri, a campaign, Winning for Missouri Education, this week put forward over 340,000 voter signatures to the Missouri State Secretary, Jay Ashcroft’s (R) office. This surpasses the requisite count needed to trigger a statewide ballot referendum designed to amend the constitution to permit betting on professional and college sports. The matter should, therefore, be on the table come the November elections, providing voters a rare opportunity to influence the potential shift in the state’s sports betting landscape.

Interestingly, Missouri remains one of the last dozen states holding out against legalized sports betting. The overwhelming support reflected in the gathered signatures signals a pivotal moment for sports enthusiasts and the gambling community in the heartland state. Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for Winning for Missouri Education, hailed this development, highlighting the critical importance of retaining sports revenues within Missouri for the benefit of local communities and classrooms.

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To qualify for the 2024 ballot, Ashcroft’s office must however verify a minimum count of 171,592 signatures of the collected batch. With nearly double that figure in their coffer, the probability is high that the critical question of sports betting expansion will nestle amongst other issues dominating the Nov. 5 Presidential election discourse.

Winning for Missouri Education, the force behind this potent campaign, is a coalition of the state’s top-tier professional sports franchises. The movement emerged after repeated failures to legislate sports betting via the General Assembly. The Senate proved to be a recurring roadblock, with state Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) opting to filibuster the passage of sports betting legalization, advocating for the concurrent regulation of controversial skill gaming machines.

In response, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, MLB teams Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals, NHL’s St. Louis Blues and the MLS teams Kansas City Current and St. Louis City soccer clubs, brought matters into their own hands, forming Winning for Missouri Education. Especially noteworthy here are the Chiefs’ followers who, despite a string of successful Super Bowls, were unable to place bets within their home state. Consequently, many had to cross state borders where online sports betting is permitted, to places like Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Should Ashcroft’s office legitimize the requisite signatures, Missouri could join a burgeoning group of 38 states and the District of Columbia with sanctioned sports betting. If approved, betting could take place in the state’s 13 riverboat casinos through a retail and online single partner or skin. Missouri’s six professional sports franchises could enjoy similar privileges, a step further, the Missouri Gaming Commission would get the green light to license two mobile sports betting operators unassociated with a physical casino or sports franchise.

Lastly, the first $5 million of state tax earnings from sportsbooks would directly fund initiatives combatting gambling issues, with the rest channelled towards public education. In a nutshell, the winds of change are undeniably blowing across Missouri’s betting landscape, promising a revitalizing flood of local revenue and exciting times ahead for the state’s sports enthusiasts.