Update: Missouri Sports Betting Petitions in the Hands of 116 ‘Election Authorities’

County clerks and district election boards have about 340,000 signatures in hand as petitioners try to make legal Missouri sports betting a reality. The group Winning for Missouri Education delivered the Missouri sports betting petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office on May 2, 2024.

A parking lot press event in Jefferson City included mascots from the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and St. Louis Blues. The characters “tended to” copious stacks of filing boxes with petition signatures inside.

Missouri represents the fourth-largest untapped market for the US sports wagering industry. California, Texas, and Georgia also have a place among a dozen states that don’t allow real-money legal sports betting of any kind.

The state’s pro franchises and the Winning for Missouri group want to change that for Show Me State residents. They began their campaign to legalize sports betting in the fall of 2023.

It’s worth noting that the 2024 Missouri Legislature had a chance to make the petition drive a moot point. The Missouri House has often voted in support of the potential new revenue source. Efforts repeatedly stall the Missouri Senate, however.

Senators want to attach rules to regulate grey market, slot-machine-style games. The unchecked machines occupy the corners of many Missouri convenience stores.

Where are Missouri Sports Betting Petitions Now?

The Missouri Secretary of State’s Office organized and scanned the mascot-escorted paperwork. From there, the documents went to the 116 local election hubs, according to JoDonn Chaney, the Director of Communications for Secretary of State John R. “Jay” Ashcroft.

Local election officials have until July 30 to ensure the signatures are authentic and belong to a registered voter in their jurisdictions.

“After they do their process, they send that back to us to put together a final tally,” Chaney said. “Then we issue a certificate of sufficiency or insufficiency based on the results from the 116 election authorities.”

The sports betting group needs about 180,000 proven signatures to be included on the Nov. 5, 2024, General Election ballot.

Winning For Missouri Education’s 340,000 signatures reflect additional outreach and a cautious approach to the petition process. Failed petitions do happen. Chaney said Ashcroft’s office marked an unrelated petition drive as insufficient in the 2022 election cycle.

“For example, let’s just say you hire a bunch of workers to collect signatures at a mall in Saint Louis — close to the border, where you get traffic from other states coming in and you stand there for X number of months collecting signatures.”

Local officials will catch the duplicate and out-of-state signatures. Too many will keep an issue off the November ballot.

From the Boxes to the Ballot

The election authorities’ July 30 deadline starts a new clock back at the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office. Staffers in Jefferson City have two weeks — Aug. 13 this year — to give the sports betting petition a certificate of sufficiency or insufficiency.

The Secretary of State’s Office then has an Aug. 27 deadline to get the sports betting referendum on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

What Happens with a Missouri Sports Betting Petition Win

As long as Winning for Missouri Education doesn’t have about 160,000 signatures disqualified, Trump, Biden, and sports betting will all be among the voting options on the state’s fall ballot.

The referendum needs a simple majority support from voters. The grey-machine hawks in the Missouri Senate would be powerless to stall the effort. According to the Associated Press:

  • 13 Missouri casinos and six pro franchises in the state could partner with sports betting operators. The stadiums and casinos could establish both in-person and online betting through partners like DraftKings or FanDuel.
  • The Missouri Gaming Commission itself could also partner with two sportsbooks.
  • A 10% tax on revenue would go toward the state’s education budget.
  • Licensing fees and taxes would create a $5 million revenue source for problem gambling programs.
  • The pro franchises could create an exclusive 400-foot advertising zone around their venues to protect their sports betting relationships.

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About the Author
Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell

Lead Writer
Russ Mitchell joined Gaming Today as a lead writer in February 2023 after joining Catena Media in 2021 as a managing editor for the PlayIA and PlayVA brands. He covers sports betting industry news market developments, the college sports betting industry, and the four major North American pro sports leagues. With 25+ years of journalism experience to Gaming Today. He is a five-time winner of the Iowa’s prestigious Harrison “Skip” Weber Investigative Reporting award, a two-time National Newspaper Association award winner and a 50-time Iowa Newspaper Association award winner.

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