Missouri sports betting could make it to the polls in Nov. 2024 by way of any one of 16 initiative petitions now pending at the Secretary of State’s office in Jefferson City.
Should any of the proposed initiatives make the ballot, Missouri voters would have a chance to amend the state constitution to authorize a launch of online and retail sports betting tied to Missouri’s casinos and pro sports teams no later than Dec. 1, 2025. In addition, as many as four mobile licenses (one per operator) could be issued directly to online sportsbooks — depending on the proposed amendment. Some would allow up to two standalone mobile licenses, others up to three.
The proposed sports betting tax rate under the petitions would be 10 percent.
All 16 initiatives were filed between Oct. 3-4. Four similar sports betting initiatives were filed Sept. 8, but have not as of yet been cleared for circulation among the state’s voters.
Pro sports franchises are behind the effort. A joint statement from Missouri pro sports teams released on Sept. 14 by the St. Louis Cardinals makes it clear that the teams — including the Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Chiefs, and Kansas City Royals — are tired of waiting for Missouri lawmakers to act on legal sports betting.
All state legislative attempts at legalization in the Show-Me State to date have failed, largely due to a push to add video slot machine regulation to the sports betting debate. A Sept. 14 story in Spectrum News quoted the state’s pro sports teams as saying:
“Although we would prefer to achieve this goal through the legislative process and will continue to work with stakeholders to advance a responsible sports wagering law to that end, the coalition has begun work to put the issue on the ballot before Missouri voters in 2024 by filing initiative petition language with the Secretary of State’s office. We believe that this initiative petition language provides for a reasonable and responsible framework for the legalization of sports wagering that will, collectively, serve the best interests of all Missourians.”
The 16 initiative petitions filed this month are now in a public comment period, according to the Secretary of State’s office. None of the sports betting initiatives now pending been released for circulation among voters.
Possible Next Steps for the Sports Betting Petitions
The 16 petitions were filed by Missouri attorney Alixandra Cossette, who in 2021 filed nine proposed sports betting initiatives on behalf of Missouri pro sports teams in the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blue, Kansas City Royals, and St. Louis City Soccer Club.
The purpose of each of the current petitions is similar — amend the Missouri Constitution to legalize sports betting and give both pro teams and casinos a stake in the action. What is slightly different is how they are written. Nuances in language can potentially make or break an initiative’s chance of making the ballot.
According to the Secretary of State’s website regarding initiative petitions, “Before circulating a petition for signatures, state law requires that groups must first have the form of their petition approved by the Secretary of State’s office.”
If approved, the Secretary of State’s office prepares a ballot summary which is reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office, according to the Secretary of State’s website. A fiscal note (financial impact summary) tied to a petition is also either approved or rejected. A petition may be circulated among voters after an official ballot title is posted by the Secretary of State’s office.
Missouri Lawmakers May Take Up Sports Betting in 2024
It is uncertain at this point which of the proposals has the best chance at voter approval, if any.
The required minimum number of voter signatures to get an initiative on the 2024 general election ballot in Missouri is 171,592, according to data compiled by Ballotpedia. That total represents eight percent of those who voted in the most recent governor’s race in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts, as required by law.
In the meantime, it’s always possible that sports betting legislation will return to the Capitol in Jefferson City. No Missouri sports betting bills appear to have yet been pre-filed for 2024, but there’s time. Missouri legislators will convene their 2024 annual session on Jan. 3.