Three professional St. Louis teams and a Kansas City one are pushing to legalize sports betting in the state of Missouri. A Jefferson City lawyer filed last week nine ballot proposals on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, St. Louis City Soccer Club and Kansas City Royals, reports St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Under the filed proposals, money from taxing sports betting would be split between schools and roads. The teams hope taking the issue directly before voters could finally greenlight sports betting in the state: prior efforts to pass a law allowing sports wagering have failed for years. More than 20 bills have been filed since 2019.
Republican Sen. Denny Hoskins, the proposer of several bills to legalize sports betting in the state, warned that legalizing it through a ballot initiative will mean lawmakers can’t easily address any potential issues with the program once enacted. These include details of sportsbooks operations, including tax rates, application fees and annual administrative fees.
In order to be put on the ballot, proposals need to secure a certain number of voter signatures. According to the previously cited news source, backers haven’t started collecting them yet, with the proposals still in the public comment stage. If approved by voters, Missouri residents would be allowed to bet on football, baseball, college sports, more.
“Each of our organizations supports the legalization of sports wagering in Missouri as a way to increase engagement with our fans and provide a fun and exciting new way to enjoy sports and root for our teams,” the teams said in a joint statement to the Post-Dispatch. “We also believe that sports wagering will generate a significant new source of tax revenue for Missouri.”
While the pro teams are hopeful the Legislature can strike a deal, they consider the potential ballot initiative a plan B should talk stall again. “We are united in our goal of supporting a responsible Missouri sports wagering law that is good for our teams, our fans, and the citizens of the great state of Missouri,” further expressed the clubs.
Tre proposed initiatives include varying tax rates, ranging from 6.75% to 21%, whereas legislation filed in recent years set the rate at between 6.25% and 9%. Legislation debated in the spring positioned application fees at a range from $10,000 to $50,000, whereas the ballot initiatives call on the Missouri Gaming Commission to write the rules for the fee structure.
According to estimations from one gambling expansion bill, net proceeds to the state are estimated at about $12 million. To qualify a constitutional amendment for the ballot, supporters in Missouri need valid signatures from 8% of voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts.