Four professional sports teams in Missouri are getting behind the movement to legalize sports betting. The St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, St. Louis City SC and the Kansas City Royals have filed ballot proposals in Jefferson City to put sports betting on the ballot for voters to decide.
If approved by voters, Missouri would join 32 other states and Washington D.C. in legalizing sports wagering, according to the American Gaming Association. In fact, five states which border Missouri – Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee and Nebraska – have all legalized sports betting.
Although the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that legalization would be left up to the states, the Missouri legislature’s efforts to legalize sports betting haven’t had any luck. The teams are hoping the Show-Me State’s voters are more supportive of the legislation than its politicians have been.
In the proposal, tax dollars from sports gambling would be split between schools and roads. The proposals have not yet been approved for signature gathering and are currently in the public comment stage.
For the initiative to be placed on the ballot, it must gain 107,246 signatures, each verified afterwards by the secretary of state’s office. If the appropriate number of signatures are gathered and verified, the petition will be placed on the general election ballot. The petition then must get a simple majority of votes to be implemented.
“Each of our organizations supports the legalization of sports wagering in Missouri as a way to increase engagement with our fans and provide a fun and exciting new way to enjoy sports and root for our teams,” the teams said in a joint statement to the Post-Dispatch. “We also believe that sports wagering will generate a significant new source of tax revenue for Missouri.”
If sports betting were made legal, many Missourians would look to join the ranks of the gambling success story that happened this week. A man from New Jersey bet $1,000 that New York Jets backup quarterback Mike White would lead the NFL in passing in week 8. White proceeded to do just that and the man won $125,000.
As this often isn’t the outcome when wagering on sports, proponents of the initiative argue that it’s more about an individual’s freedom to use their income how they choose, rather than it being about an avenue to make additional income.
State Senator Tony Luetkemeyer has been a large advocate for sports betting in Missouri, introducing legislation to legalize it in both the 2019 and 2021 legislative sessions. 2021’s SB 217 would have authorized retail sportsbooks at casinos and allowed casinos to partner with third-party betting providers to launch statewide mobile betting.
Along with Luetkemeyer, State Sens. Caleb Rowden and Denny Hoskins also pre-filed legislation for the 2021 session to legalize sports wagering, though all three were unsuccessful.
With the 2022 legislative session just two months away, Missourians can expect an effort once again with Republicans’ support for sports gambling increasing as time goes on.