Four Missouri sports teams have formed a coalition to advocate for sports betting legalization in Missouri:
- Kansas City Royals
- St. Louis Cardinals
- St. Louis Blues
- St. Louis City Soccer Club
The teams hope to get sports betting legalized during Missouri’s 2022 legislative session, according to a KOMU-NBC report. However, these four franchises are also willing to use Missouri’s initiative petition process to get the issue on the ballot. That would require 5% of each congressional district to sign a petition to legalize sports betting. If the teams obtain enough signatures, they could get the issue on the ballot for the next general election.
However, mounting that kind of campaign is a second choice for these teams. Their statement suggests they want to lobby for sports betting legalization in 2022 before funding a campaign.
Professional Teams Embracing Sports Betting
Professional sports teams used to avoid associating with sports betting and were among the most prominent critics of legalization. However, major leagues and their teams have embraced sports betting by pushing for regulations and striking marketing deals with major sportsbook brands.
Sports betting laws in some states, like Arizona, Illinois, and Maryland, allow brick-and-mortar sportsbooks to be placed within sports facilities. This opens additional revenue possibilities for teams.
A coalition of teams favoring sports betting legalization is a large step in the sports betting industry. It’s the first time that a group of professional teams has supported betting on their teams, Kenneth Whisenhunt, a sports law professor at the University of Missouri, told KOMO.
“What makes this ballot initiative different is it’s actually the first time that a set of professional sports teams have come forward to wholeheartedly kind of support gambling on their teams,” Whisenhunt said. “You’ve never really seen this happen before.”
It’s an important milestone in the transforming attitudes toward sports betting in professional sports. Pro teams have moved from opposing sports betting to pining for it.
Legal Sports Betting Around Missouri
Missouri is watching its sports-betting residents flock to Iowa and Illinois, where retail and online sports betting are legal. Not only is Missouri losing sports betting revenue to surrounding states, the state’s sports franchises also aren’t benefitting from increased fan engagement.
Between interstate competition and advocacy from pro-sports betting groups, Missouri lawmakers are facing increased pressure to legalize sports betting.