2024 Missouri Sports Betting Proposal Takes Next Step Towards Making Ballot

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
2024 Missouri Sports Betting Proposal Takes Next Step Towards Making Ballot

A 2024 Missouri sports betting proposal that would bypass the usual channels of legalization is officially taking the next step. 

On December 4, the Secretary of State ratified “ballot language in the effort” to legalize sports betting throughout Missouri. Now, the sponsors of this bill must obtain the required number of signatures of voters to keep moving forward.

The Show-Me State is truly entering unique territory with this measure. Among the 38 states to legalize some form of sports betting, most haven’t needed to go this route. Essentially, the backers of this Missouri sports betting bill are attempting to circumvent the House of Representatives and Senate. To be more specific, they are trying to get around the Senate approval. 

Last year’s push to legalize sports betting in Missouri died in the Senate amid yet another debate over the exclusion of Video Lottery Terminals. That issue was and remains spearheaded by Senator Denny Hoskins. He has insisted on numerous occasions that Video Lottery Terminals must be part of any sports gambling initiative. Intense opposition to this sentiment has derailed numerous attempts to expand Missouri’s gaming laws. 

How is this latest sports betting measure going to be any different? We previously explored how the push to legalize Missouri sports betting was progressing forward just last month. Now, however, even more details are starting to emerge.

Will the 2024 Missouri Sports Betting Bill Receive the Required Number of Signatures?

When we last left off, the sponsors of this 2024 Missouri sports betting initiative needed to choose between one of eight versions. It seems they have done just that, given that the Secretary of State has signed off on the exact language.

Gathering somewhere between 170,000 and 180,000 signatures is the next part of the process. While that number is high—roughly 3 percent of the Missouri population—the sponsors of the bill believe they will have no trouble reaching that number.

Ah, yes. The sponsors. In yet another unique twist to the Missouri sports betting journey, this method of legalization is being steered by the region’s pro sports organizations. This list includes the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team (MLB), Kansas City Chiefs football team (NFL), the Kansas City Royals baseball team (MLB), Kansas City Current and St. Louis City soccer teams (MLS) and St. Louis Blues hockey team (NHL).

This isn’t really a “Eureka!” moment. Of course sports teams want to legalize sports gambling in Missouri. They stand to rake in money hand over fist through sponsorships and on-site sportsbook offerings. But while that’s true, the cost of financing this bill isn’t cheap. It will take millions and millions of dollars to adequately advertise and lobby and, ultimately, prevent the Senate from derailing its trajectory.

Is that even possible, given how many times the Senate (and Senator Hoskins) have been able to scuttle previous attempts? St. Louis Cardinals team president Bill DeWitt III is the leading face of this measure, and he seems to believe it has a real shot at panning out. Frankly, you cannot help but believe him. The owners of pro sports teams might be loaded, but they’re not in the business of funneling millions of dollars into a lost cause.

Here’s How Missouri Sports Gambling Would be Legalized in 2024

Many of the finer details within this Missouri sports betting push aren’t public knowledge. But we do know that its passage would allow for retail sportsbooks as well as online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market. As David A. Lieb wrote for the Associated Press:

“The proposed constitutional amendment would allow each of Missouri’s professional sports teams and casinos to offer sports betting onsite and through online platforms that could be used anywhere in the state. Some of the different versions would allow up to four online sports betting companies to receive approval to operate directly from the state.”

We still don’t know how many Missouri sports betting licenses ended up in the final bill. We’d bet on the full four, but again, we’re not quite sure. The real question among those who may not be schooled in the fineprint: What happens if these sports teams get the signatures needed? 

In that case, an official Missouri sports betting initiative would appear on the 2024 electoral ballot. Voters would then have a chance to decide whether they are for or against it.

Assuming this bill gets that far, the expectation is that it’ll pass. Geotracking data has shown that Missourians frequently flock to neighboring Kansas to bet on sports. Pro sports organizations also generally have a good pulse on the voting population. The intersection of sports and politics when it comes to matters such as arena constructions and tax dollars have ensured that. 

Will This Attempt to Legalize Missouri Sports Betting be Successful?

So, let’s get this straight: The powers bankrolling this sports gambling proposal are confident they will get the signatures and are confident voters will approve of the measure next fall. That sounds almost too good to be true. 

And it might be.

The Senate looms large in all this. Though the entire point of this measure is to circumvent their deliberation process, you can bet opponents would do their darndest to counter-lobby against this latest Missouri sports betting proposal. 

On the bright side, Mr. DeWitt and the rest of his cohorts needn’t worry about the Missouri House of Representatives. House members passed a Missouri sports betting bill in 2023 with an overwhelming stamp of approval. It was the Senate that invariably shut the door on its final approval. 

Will opponents in the Senate find a way, again, to defang this latest Missouri sports betting attempt? The state legislature is scheduled to meet on January 3, 2024. Assuming Missouri’s sports teams get their nearly 200,000 signatures, we should know by then.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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