Missouri Voters to Decide on Legalizing Sports Betting this November

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This November, the people of Missouri will not only cast their votes for the next American president, but also decide the fate of retail and online sports betting in the state.

On May 2, 2024, mascots from Missouri’s professional sports teams took part in a rhythmical procession, carefully toting boxes of voter signatures for a campaign designed to legalize sports betting. This campaign will culminate in a November ballot referendum, with recent polling suggesting a tight race between supporters and opposition of the sports betting question.

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Jay Ashcroft’s office, the Missouri State Secretary, has assumed the task of painstakingly verifying more than 340,000 supportive signatures submitted for the statewide sports gambling referendum. Presented by the Winning for Missouri Education campaign, these signatures bolster the push toward amending the Missouri Constitution to permit sports betting.

A recent opinion poll revealed that if the referendum were to be held now, approximately 38% of likely voters would favor the measure while 35% would oppose it. However, about 26% of voters remain undecided, indicating that the campaign’s messaging might require some reevaluation, as stated by Matt Taglia, the poll’s senior director.

Winning for Missouri Education has garnered support from a slate of the state’s professional sports teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, and soccer clubs – Kansas City Current and St. Louis City. Apart from local sports franchises, giants DraftKings and FanDuel have financially backed the initiative, too.

However, Taglia underlined the need for clear messaging in the campaign, he stated, “A significant segment of voters remains unsure, they probably don’t comprehend the full implication of sports betting but are conceptually supportive of it”.

The proposition that voters would be considering involves permitting sportsbooks at the state’s 13 riverboat casinos. Consequently, the casinos could also establish an online sports wagering platform. These rights would not only extend to retail sports betting at sports stadiums and arenas but would offer these venues permission to operate an online sportsbook skin.

Moreover, the Missouri Gaming Commission would be authorized to issue two untethered online sportsbook licenses, not associated with any riverboat or sports stadiums.

The first $5 million derived from sports gambling revenue would be set aside for programs aimed at combating problem gambling. The surplus tax benefit would go toward uplifting public K-12 education.

Approval of the sports betting question will task state lawmakers with determining licensing fees for sportsbook rights and imposing a gross revenue tax on oddsmakers.

The sports betting question will only grace the November ballot if a minimum of 171,592 of the submitted signatures manage to pass the stringent validation process implemented by Ashcroft’s office. The meticulous process involves verification of scanned copies of the signatures by county elections authorities, who then compare the scans with the on-record voter signatures.

If indeed there are sufficient validated signatures, the state secretary will issue a “Certificate of Sufficiency”. This moves the petition to the ballot for the monumental general election.

Interestingly, Missouri is encircled by eight states — Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. All, except Oklahoma, have legalized some form of sports betting.