Pro Sports Teams Officially Submit Petition to Put Missouri Sports Betting on November Ballot

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: May 21, 2024 08:00 PM
Pro Sports Teams Officially Submit Petition to Put Missouri Sports Betting on November Ballot

A petition led by pro sports teams in the Show-Me State that would put Missouri sports betting on the November 2024 electoral ballot was officially submitted earlier this month. 

So, what happens next?

We wait. And wait. And perhaps wait some more. 

Rallying the required number of signatures and submitting the petition to get sports betting in Missouri on the November ballot is in many ways merely the beginning. There’s a long way to go before it’s guaranteed to be an issue voters can decide on. And there’s an even longer road to travel before actual legalization.

Still, this remains a significant development. At the very least, it shows enough people inside the state support some form of sports betting to fill up a petition. Heck, this might even be a bigger deal than we’re making it. After all, the news has come on the heels of a recent poll showing Missouri voters may be opposed to sports betting. And by the way, that’s another wrinkle in all this. Just because a sports gambling bill might make the ballot doesn’t mean it’ll receive the necessary voter support.

What should we make of all this? What actually happens next? Why is the issue of Missouri sports betting going this route at all? We’ve all got questions. Let’s go find some answers.

Here’s Why Pro Sports Teams are Trying to Take Missouri Sports Betting Matters into Their Own Hands

Typically, attempts to legalize sports betting in the United States are spearheaded by members of the House of Representatives and Senate. Policymakers sponsor a bill they believe will get bi-partisan support. It is then voted on in the House. If successful, it moves on to the Senate. And if the Senate approves it, that’s when prospective constitutional amendments appear before voters on electoral ballots.

In previous years, Missouri sports betting initiatives have followed this same blueprint. However, each time, the proposed bills wound up dying on the Senate floor. Plenty of factors were and continue to be at play. But Senator Denny Hoskins’ insistence on including video lottery terminals as part of sports betting legalization is often cited as the driving force behind multiple failures.

This is ultimately why Missouri sports teams are trying to take matters into their own hands. They do not believe sports betting legislation will ever get a fair shake in the Senate. And they also believe the matter is one that should be left to the voters to decide. 

What Happens Now that the Missouri Sports Wagering Petition Has Been Submitted?

Missouri’s teams pulled out all the stops to cobble together signatures and submit the petition. The Associated Press’ Summer Ballentine reported on the details as well as what happens next: 

“Missouri’s professional sports teams on Thursday turned in more than 340,000 voter signatures to put a ballot proposal to legalize sports betting before voters this November…Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft now must validate the voter signatures before the proposal officially makes it on the ballot. The campaign needs roughly 180,000 signatures to qualify.”

Submitting the petition with nearly double the required number of signatures should bode well for the chances of approval. And it suggests the measure might fare better than expected at the polls.

As it stands, some worried that allowing online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market might compromise the support. But respondents apparently reacted well to revenue projections. 

Representatives behind the bill have said legal Missouri sports betting could generate tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue per year. Sponsors also won over many respondents by noting the measure would allocate $5 million annually to help address problem gambling.

New Initiative in General Assembly Could Complicate Missouri Sports Betting Legislation

On the surface, the trajectory of the petition looks pretty good. But the General Assembly may end up adding a significant wrinkle to the process. Here’s the Missouri Independent’s John Murphy with more:

“The General Assembly is currently debating a measure that would require any prospective constitutional amendment to receive a majority vote not only statewide, which is the current threshold, but also approval from at least five of the state’s eight congressional districts. The measure, if approved, could make it to the August primary and change the approval process for November.”

It isn’t immediately clear whether this proposal will make it through the primary. If it does, though, it will make it harder for Missouri sports betting to be legalized in November

Effectively, this measure seems to function like an in-state electoral college. The 2024 Missouri sports betting bill could technically receive majority approval from voters and still fail

Of course, winning five of the state’s eight districts shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle if you’re getting general majority support. Then again, Missouri skews heavily conservative. And that conservatism varies depending on the region. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that four districts land on the opposite side of this proposal.

All of which makes predicting the future of sports betting in Missouri incredibly difficult. If we had to guess, the sports gambling measure will make the November ballot. As for whether it’ll get approved, we honestly don’t know. 

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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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