New Poll Shows Voters Support Legalization of Missouri Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Feb 8, 2024 07:00 PM
New Poll Shows Voters Support Legalization of Missouri Sports Betting

A recent poll conducted in The Show Me State has reportedly confirmed what many assumed all along: Voters are generally in favor of legalizing Missouri sports betting.

The survey was conducted in concert by Fox 4 in Missouri and Emerson College and included a wide-range of topics. When it came to sports betting in Missouri, nearly two-thirds of the registered voters who participated in the poll said they would support a ballot measure that legalizes some form of legal gambling. 

These results come at a time when pro sports teams in The Show Me State are spearheading a push to get sports wagering on the 2024 Missouri general election ballot. After clearing the initial hurdles, the initiative is in the signature-gathering stage. If the sponsors rally enough of them, registered voters will have a chance to decide the fate of Missouri sports gambling in 2024.

Previously, it has been unclear which way residents would sway if given the opportunity to choose. Roughly 80 percent of the United States has now legalized some form of sports gambling. This tends to suggest that any proposals that crack a voter ballot will make it through. Then again, states that favor conservative-leaning politics can be wild cards in this discussion. In fact, the majority of states without legal sports betting fall under that political umbrella—including Missouri. At the same time, plenty of conservative states have rolled out sports gambling with voter approval. This 2024 Missouri sports betting poll potentially proves that, if given the opportunity, The Show Me State will be one of them.

Increasingly Liberal Views Could be Fueling Missouri Sports Betting Interest

Jonathan Ketz of Fox 4 in Missouri relayed the results from this recent poll. He notes that 1,830 registered voters were surveyed as part of it. While that leaves open plenty of margin for error, sample sizes this large are considered to be fairly accurate depictions of overall voter sentiment. And from this pool of voters, 62 percent said they would say “yes” to a 2024 Missouri sports betting bill. On the flip side, 38 percent said they would vote “no.” (It is unclear from the data whether respondents were given the opportunity to select an “Undecided option.”) The forces driving these returns are multifold. But shifting political views could be at the heart of Missouri voters showing interest in sports betting. As Park University Political Science Professor Matt Harris told Ketz:

“We’ve seen in Missouri that voters are sometimes willing to go in a more leftward direction,” Harris said. “[We have] seen that on things like Medicaid expansion. We’ve seen that on things like marijuana. Sometimes they’re willing to go more left when it comes to these sort of ballot measures than they are when it comes to selecting for example the candidates, the representation they want to send to Washington D.C.”

This is an important distinction. And it explains why voter sentiment on Missouri sports betting may diverge so strongly from that of elected officials. 

Members of the House and Senate are more likely to stick with their party line. Voters, on the other hand, have a propensity to be more reflexive with their views. 

However, It Is Not Only Left-Leaning Voters Who Seem to Approve of Legalized Sports Gambling

And yet, support for the legalization of sports gambling throughout Missouri is not merely prevalent among voters with leftward views. As Harris also explained, it is a topic that’s generating bi-partisan advocacy.

“When you look at sports betting, it seems like there’s pretty broad support,” he explained. “If you look at the Crosstabs there, Democrats support it, Independents support it, and Republicans are a little lower but still, a majority of them support it, so it seems like there’s pretty broad support for sports betting in Missouri.”

This is key to the future of sports gambling in The Show Me State. Most of the time, it takes bi-partisan pushes for sports betting to get over the legalization hump. 

Recent events have only reinforced this notion. The launch of sports betting in Vermont required legitimate efforts from policymakers on all sides of the political spectrum. Meanwhile, growing optimism surrounding the future of sports betting in Georgia is largely fueled by more progressives entering the House and Senate but it’s taken bi-partisan efforts to fast-track (possible) 2024 legislation. 

If the Missouri sports betting survey is accurate, it sure seems like the state is following this exact trend. Does that mean the official legalization of sports gambling in 2024 will follow suit?

What’s the Status of the 2024 Missouri Sports Betting Bill?

Entering the New Year, there was plenty of hope that the 2024 Missouri sports betting initiative being pushed by in-market sports teams would make it on to the ballot. But that faith started to fracture and fissure to close out January. 

Issues with the proposed tax structure left many thinking the Missouri sports betting bill was at risk of failing before ever making the ballot. Since then, though, concern has considerably tapered off. The measure remains in the signature-gathering stage. And most expect it will receive enough to make the ballot and be turned over for registered voter approval in 2024.

If we take the Fox 4 and Emerson college survey results as gospel, an appearance on the ballot guarantees the legalization of sports betting in Missouri. But it’s also not that simple. 

Reaching the ballot is perhaps only half the battle. Voters still need to say “yes.” And there are aspects of the bill that may not engender bi-partisan support. For example, the current measure allows a select number of online sportsbooks in the United States to enter the market. There may be voters who support sports gambling but only if it’s on-site. 

Granted, this might register as a minor concern. After all, the Missouri sports betting poll explicitly asked voters about the current initiative. And over 60 percent of respondents said they supported what’s actually on the table. 

This is all to say, if a Missouri sports betting initiative makes the 2024 general election ballot, it sure seems like it’ll pass—with flying colors.

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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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