Four sports betting initiative petitions were filed in Missouri on Sept. 8 in an effort to get sports betting on the November 2024 general election ballot. This avenue of legalization would sidestep the obstacles that sports betting has previously faced in the legislative chambers.
Details of Sports Betting Petitions
These petitions seek to place a legalization question on the November 2024 ballot assessing online and retail sports betting in Missouri. The main difference among the four petitions is in regards to the number of online sports betting licenses awarded to online operators directly. It varies from one to four.
In addition, each Missouri professional sports team and casino would be eligible for both retail and online sports betting licenses and could partner with sports betting operators to do so.
The tax rate is a proposed 10% and the cost for retail and online licenses would be $250,000 and $500,000, respectively, with an additional renewal fee every five years.
Tax revenue generated from sports betting would reimburse the state for incurred costs first, then fund the Compulsive Gambling Prevention Fund until it has raised $5 million, then support various school and education programs in the state with any remaining revenue.
Pathway to The Ballot
Before a petition can formally collect signatures, state law requires that the petition first be filed with the Secretary of State. Then, the petition is subject to public comment for 15 days following the formal filing date. In this case, the public comment period for all four petitions is open until Sept. 23. After reviewing all comments, the office will have until Oct. 1 to review the petition and either reject it or approve it to circulate.
If the petition(s) get approved, sports betting proponents can then begin collecting signatures from Missouri voters. At least 8% of voters need to sign in six of the eight Missouri congressional districts to get sports betting on the ballot in November.
If Missouri voters approve sports betting, the petitions set the end of 2025 as the latest deadline for launch.
Backdoor Approach: The Pros and Cons
Missouri is no stranger to sports betting legalization efforts. In fact, this is the second significant attempt this year, though it has failed for the last several years.
At the heart of the issue has been the inclusion or exclusion of video lottery terminals (VLTs). Sen. Denny Hoskins is a large proponent of the inclusion of VLTs in any and all sports betting legislation, and ultimately has stood in the way of any legislation that excludes it.
The initiative petition route would side step Hoskins and the legislature all together and instead go straight to the voters who have expressed their support in the past, though the process is longer and requires more effort.
The good news is that sports teams have also continually expressed their support for sports betting in the state which bodes well for collecting signatures. The bad news is that Hoskins announced his intent to run for Secretary of State in June.