Missouri Sports Betting Legalization Efforts to Advance to Voters

The campaign to legalize sports betting in Missouri has reached a significant milestone. It has amassed over 340,000 voter signatures, a figure that surpasses the threshold required to place the initiative on the ballot, pending validation.

Fredbird, the mascot of MLB's St. Louis Cardinals. (Source: St. Louis Cardinals via X)

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The movement to legalize sports betting in Missouri has garnered substantial support from a coalition of professional sports teams, signaling a significant shift in the landscape of sports and gaming. This coalition includes prominent teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals alongside the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals and other sports teams.

Related: Missouri Starts New Push for Legalized Sports Betting and Slots

Under the proposed amendment, Missouri's 13 casinos and the six professional sports teams would be authorized to offer both onsite and mobile sports betting. This dual approach aims to cater to the preferences of various bettors, providing convenience and accessibility. The ability for teams to control onsite betting within their venues and the surrounding areas could transform the match-day experience, offering fans new ways to engage with their favorite sports.

Moreover, the initiative stipulates that teams would have the authority to manage advertising related to sports betting within a 400-yard radius of their stadiums and arenas. This provision is designed to give teams a stake in the betting ecosystem, allowing them to create a more integrated and immersive environment for fans. It also opens up new revenue streams, which could be reinvested into the teams and the local community.

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The proposal also extends the opportunity for licensing to two mobile sports betting operators, who would be directly overseen by the Missouri Gaming Commission. This regulatory framework is intended to ensure that sports betting operations are conducted with integrity and in accordance with strict guidelines. The direct involvement of the Gaming Commission is a measure to maintain public trust and ensure that the expansion of sports betting is managed responsibly.

State voters would need to sign off on the measure for legal sports betting to be allowed. The proposed constitutional amendment would allow for both onsite and mobile sports betting, with the potential to generate substantial tax revenues earmarked for education and problem gambling programs.

Facing Uncertain Future

The journey towards legalization is fraught with challenges, as evidenced by the experiences of other states in 2024. For instance, Georgia's efforts to legalize sports betting have been stymied for the second consecutive legislative cycle, with bills languishing in the House Rules Committee despite passing in the Senate. Mississippi and Alabama are also encountering challenges embracing legalized sports betting expansion.

The necessity of a constitutional amendment, requiring a two-thirds majority in both legislative chambers and subsequent voter approval, has proven to be a formidable barrier. This process not only complicates the legislative route but also delays the potential implementation of sports betting, as seen in Georgia's case, where the earliest opportunity for voter consideration is now pushed to 2026.


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