Missouri Pro Teams Join Forces, Attempt to Get Sports Betting Initiative on Ballot

These petitions come in wake of a new NFL season kicking off.

Last Updated: Sep 13, 2023 12:49 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Nolan Arenado Paul Goldschmidt St. Louis Cardinals MLB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Tired of waiting for the Missouri legislature to get its act together when it comes to greenlighting legal sports betting, pro teams in the Show Me State are ready for the public to decide. 

A coalition headed by MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals also includes the Kansas City Royals, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, as well as the NHL’s St. Louis Blues.

This group is attempting to get the subject of legalized sports betting put on the 2024 ballot to have Missouri residents ultimately decide. These pro teams are seeking signatures on a petition and running an expensive ad campaign to get the word out.

Mike Whittle, the Cardinals’ senior vice president and general counsel, recently told the Associated Press that legal sports betting in Missouri would “provide our fans a good, new exciting way to enjoy sport and root for our teams.”

According to the AP's report, the pro teams have discussed their ballot initiative with the Sports Betting Alliance, which consists of FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and Fanatics Sportsbook

The proposed initiative calls for a 10% tax rate on adjusted gross revenue, resulting in $30 million a year for the state, along with millions going to fund problem gambling and educational institutions.

Try, try again

Missouri pro teams aren’t the only group attempting to take sports betting to the ballot. There are currently four other petitions making their way around the Show Me State, and Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft is accepting comments from the public

These petitions call for online betting sites and retail wagering to be legalized, and vary in terms of where residents could wager. The state would need 8% of legal voters in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts to get sports betting on the ballot. 

This all comes after the state legislature failed to pass a sports betting bill in 2023. While the legislation successfully made it through the Missouri House by a vote of 118-35 earlier this year, the bill got hung up in the Senate because it was tied to slot-machine-type games in convenience stores. 

Instead of starting the process over in 2024, well-funded and popular pro teams are taking matters into their own hands as money from residents flows to sportsbooks outside the Show Me State.

“We’re not optimistic that kind of dynamic within the Missouri Senate will change,” Whittle said.  

Out-of-state wagering

These petitions come at a time when the NFL season has just gotten underway and attention on sports betting is at an all-time high in a calendar year. 

Geocomply, a company that collects data and blocks users in states where it’s illegal from placing bets in legal sports betting states, tracked 242.2 million geolocation transactions during Week 1 of the NFL season — up 56% from the same time last year. There were 1.1 million new accounts to start the season.

According to GeoComply, Missouri had thousands of residents drive to neighboring states to place wagers, costing the Show Me State millions of dollars annually in potential revenue. 

Missouri is surrounded by legal sports betting states Kentucky, Kansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Iowa

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