A coalition of Missouri’s major sports organizations has teamed up with sports betting giants FanDuel and DraftKings to directly appeal to voters for the legalization of sports betting in the state. The coalition of six teams includes the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis City SC, and Kansas City Current. The two sportsbooks will aim to provide financial backing for each team’s version of the petition aimed at legalized sports betting on a statewide ballot in 2024.
The coalition filed several different versions of the proposed ballot language with the Secretary of State’s office last fall. The aim of the collective is to allow pro sports teams and casinos to offer betting both onsite and through online platforms available anywhere in the state.
With the teams representing the coalition, the licenses will be held by Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, National Women’s Basketball Association, and National Women’s Soccer League. The petition does not include teams from the United Football League, since it is represented by the St. Louis Battlehawks, who are not a part of the coalition.
The teams have collaboratively created ballot language that will provide gambling boats and retail operators with a single retail license in addition to a license held by the state’s teams. The petitioners also hope that the state will allow the issuance of two mobile licenses to qualified sports gaming operators. Incidentally, the coalition of teams is backed by two of the largest sportsbooks in the country: FanDuel and DraftKings.
Missouri Coalition Creates Timeframe for Legalization
If the ballot is approved, the deadline for the launch of Missouri sports betting will be set to Dec. 1, 2025. According to the ballot, proceeds from a 10% tax on wagering activity in the state will go towards the state’s compulsive gaming fund and Missouri Gaming Commission expenses, while the remainder will be used to support educational initiatives in the state.
“We are united in our goal of supporting the legalization of sports wagering in Missouri in a reasonable, safe and responsible way that is good for our teams, our fans, our Missouri teachers and our other citizens of Missouri,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the St. Louis Cardinals in a prepared statement.
“While the sports wagering bills that we have supported during the past couple of years have overwhelmingly passed in the Missouri House and have also had the support of a majority of the Missouri Senate, those bills have been repeatedly blocked in the Missouri Senate and not allowed to proceed to a vote in the Missouri Senate. Therefore, as we are not optimistic that this pattern will change during the upcoming legislative session, we are currently proceeding with an initiative petition campaign to put the issue of legalized sports wagering on the ballot for Missouri voters in 2024,” he said.
Legislative Efforts by Missouri Casino Companies to Continue
In parallel, Missouri’s established casino companies continue to use legislative mechanisms to achieve legal status for sports wagering, according to Mike Winter, a lobbyist for the Missouri Gaming Association. However, this organization has not been involved in discussions regarding which of the 12 proposals put forth to the Secretary of State’s office should be pursued.
According to Winter, some of the proposals submitted for review did not grant any sports betting licenses to casinos. One of the selected versions will allow casinos to operate a sports betting platform independently or in partnership with an established online platform. Incidentally, sports betting has been legalized in every state bordering Missouri, with the exception of Oklahoma, in the years since the Supreme Court did away with federal laws governing sports betting in 2018.
If legalized, retail licenses would cost $250,000 while mobile licenses would cost up to $500,000 with the renewal period for both set at five years. The last date for the submission of signatures is May 5, 2024, at 5 p.m. local time.
According to the coalition, fans will be able to start signing petitions as early as the upcoming weekend at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up at Ballpark Village and the Enterprise Center when the Blues host the Boston Bruins on Saturday. However, the petition will not be available at Saturday’s NFL Wild Card playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium.
Sports wagering in Missouri holds the potential to be a market equalling the state’s casinos and lotteries. In the last three years, the Missouri Lottery sold $1.8 billion in tickets per year, while casinos won $1.9 billion in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2023. In the news release accompanying the campaign, organizers said: “Recent estimates suggest that Missourians place roughly $2 billion a year in bets using offshore gaming websites, while other Missourians drive to neighboring states to place wagers.”