New Poll Shows Voters May Not Favor the Legalization of Missouri Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 13, 2024 08:00 PM
New Poll Shows Voters May Not Favor the Legalization of Missouri Sports Betting

Another roadblock to the legalization of Missouri sports betting has emerged to start 2024.

For so long, a lack of support among members of the Senate has been considered the biggest obstacle to gambling expansion in the Show-Me State. More specifically, repeated filibustering from Senator Denny Hoskins has scuttled Missouri sports gambling hopes on a near-annual basis. The Senator is an avid proponent of including video lottery terminals (VLTs) in any sports betting legislature. Most of his peers, though, don’t like the idea of approving a form of gambling that is especially tough to regulate.

To that end, the belief has been that sports betting in Missouri would be legalized once this issue is resolved. Or failing that, it would be legalized once Senator Hoskins left office. 

While this might still be true, another issue is bursting onto the scene: a prospective lack of support among Missouri voters.

A new poll from Saint Louis University (SLU) and YouGov shows that a smaller share of Show-Me State residents than expected actively want to expand sports gambling laws. If these findings prove accurate, it is massively problematic—and yet another gargantuan hurdle legal Missouri sports betting will need to clear.

Missouri Sports Betting is Popular Among Voters—But Not as Popular as Expected

Let’s dig into the full results from the SLU/YouGov poll. Kaitlin Klasen analyzed the findings for

“In February 2024, the SLU/YouGov Poll again asked Missouri voters about their opinions on sports betting as new pushes for legalization arise. The results showed that 60% of likely Missouri voters believe that betting on professional sports should be legal in the state, and 25% believe it should not. More support was found from younger voters than older ones. For example, 76% of respondents aged 18-29 supported the legalization of sports betting compared to only 45% of those aged 65 and older

“When asked by the SLU/YouGov Poll, 47% indicated that they think betting on collegiate sports should be legal in the state, and 39% of likely Missouri voters opposed the legalization of collegiate sports betting. Thus, there is more opposition from likely Missouri voters to collegiate sports betting in the state than betting on professional sports.”

First, let’s tackle the good news for those who want sports betting legalized in Missouri. This same poll was conducted in 2023. The results at the time showed less support for gambling expansion. On top of that, the 2024 study suggests a majority of likely Missouri voters support some form of sports betting.

However, that majority isn’t especially high. A 60-percent approval rating can be awfully close to a coin toss when extrapolating for the larger population. What’s more, as the poll shows, residents over 65 generally do not support sports betting. That demographic is more likely to represent the largest share of votes cast if and when a Missouri sports betting bill appears on the 2024 electoral ballot.

Diverse Stances on Gambling Complicate Future of Sports Betting in the Show-Me State

Widespread views on sports betting in Missouri give way to a variety of different attempts at legalization. 

Currently, the state’s pro sports franchises are sponsoring a petition that would green light sports gambling without legislative support. They have garnered the required number of signatures and laid out a few different ways their model would work. Notably, their efforts would allow online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market.

There are also two measures on the legislative agenda that require a constitutional amendment and, by extension, voter approval. House Bill 2331 would authorize pro sports teams, casinos and online USA betting sites to offer services. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 284 would legalize online sports betting in “professional team districts” and permit in-person gambling on boats. It also allows for the rollout of VLTs.

Whether any of these initiatives have a viable shot at full-on legalization remains to be seen. But their existence is telltale. 

In particular, the attempt by sports teams to circumvent a constitutional amendment speaks volumes. Sure, this method lets them work around SB 284’s insistence that VLTs be part of the equation. But by skirting the need for voter approval, it likely also shows that key stakeholders aren’t totally confident Missouri sports betting would get majority support from voters.

What Does the Immediate Future Hold for Missouri Sports Betting?

At a time when interest in Missouri sports gambling is clearly high, there remains a lack of clarity on what happens next. Though the SLU/YouGov poll results can be considered encouraging, they are also a nod to lingering uncertainty outside legislative chambers.

If we had to guess, Missouri sports betting legalization will not come in 2024

The attempt from pro sports teams, while legitimate, just doesn’t jibe with how other states have expanded gambling operations. Traditionally, when you work around the need for a constitutional amendment, you’re not adding online sports betting, as their initiative is trying to do.

As for the two bills in the House and Senate, they simply seem too divisive. Senator Hoskins is bound to filibuster again if HB 2331 doesn’t incorporate VLTs. And there definitely won’t be enough support for SB 284, since so many legislative members are against VLTs.

Perhaps this forecast will prove inaccurate. We’ll know one way or another soon enough. The Missouri legislature is scheduled to adjourn in May, per their official website. If traction isn’t made before then, this will be an issue that spills into 2025—and potentially beyond.

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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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