38.3% support legalizing sports betting

Missouri: New poll shows declining support for sports betting ahead of November ballot

Reading time 1:30 min

A new poll conducted by Emerson College and The Hill reveals that Missouri residents are divided on the issue of sports betting. The survey, which polled 1,000 registered voters between June 17 and June 19, found that 38.3% support legalizing sports betting, 35.4% oppose it, and 26.3% are undecided.

These findings contrast sharply with previous surveys. An earlier poll by Emerson College and Kansas City’s FOX4 indicated that 62% of Missouri voters favored sports betting, while a subsequent survey by Saint Louis University and YouGov reported 60% support, 25% opposition, and 14% undecided.

For over five years, Missouri's general assembly has been trying to legalize sports betting, but efforts have been hindered by Senator Denny Hoskins. Hoskins has persistently tied wagering legalization to the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs), which has faced resistance from the state’s casinos.

The casinos argue that VLTs, which resemble slot machines, threaten their business and want these machines banned. Currently, VLTs operate in a grey area, found in convenience stores and restaurants without explicit regulation.

Senator Hoskins has actively opposed several bills supported by casinos and professional teams, even filibustering to prevent House bills from reaching a Senate vote.

However, with Hoskins term-limiting out later this year, the professional sports teams, under the name "Winning for Missouri Education," have taken matters into their own hands. They have filed an initiative proposal and submitted 340,000 signatures to the state for verification, aiming to move forward with a plan allowing both digital platforms and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

In May, a political action committee backed by FanDuel, DraftKings, and Missouri's pro sports teams submitted approximately 340,000 signatures for a similar initiative. With state law requiring only half that number for verification, it is anticipated that the issue will appear on the November ballot, pending the announcement of the verification process results by August 13.

The proposed initiative seeks to legalize both online and retail sports betting for commercial operators. The fluctuating poll results suggest that while there is a significant interest in sports betting, opinions among voters remain divided.

GeoComply, a company used by sportsbooks to verify the location of bettors, has reported significant activity from Missouri. Last year, GeoComply blocked around 24.5 million sports bets from Missouri IP addresses. This year, millions of attempts were blocked during the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl win, indicating persistent demand for sports betting within the state.

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