Missouri sports betting campaign gains momentum in push for ballot initiative

Sports Betting

Lost in the shuffle on Tuesday as filing began for Missouri’s August primary election was news that a drive to collect petition signatures for a statewide constitutional amendment on sports wagering is already well on its way to having enough signatures to qualify for a spot on a 2024 ballot.

Winning for Missouri Education, a coalition of Missouri professional sports franchises behind the effort, said it has collected more than 300,000 initiative petition signatures for its campaign. Proceeds from a 10% sports wagering taxes would fund state oversight and regulation of it, with the remainder going to public education in the state.

Initiative petition campaigns must collect around 180,000 valid signatures and submit them to the Secretary of State’s office by May 5.

“We are seeing strong support in the signature gathering effort because Missourians know it is time to legalize sports betting and use the funding for education. It’s not only good for our economy but will support our teachers and future generations of Missourians for years to come,” said campaign spokesman, Jack Cardetti.  

The teams launched the initiative petition campaign after years of frustration with lawmakers in Jefferson City, where legislation has been stymied over attempts to link sports wagering to regulation of video lottery games, which have popped up in scores of gas stations and other locations, and they are often seen as siphoning off revenue from the state’s regulated casinos.

Lawmakers are also weighing changes to the initiative petition process, due in large part to Republican concerns that a proposed ballot measure that would enshrine abortion rights would pass if the current standard, a simple majority of voters, remains in place.

The Senate last week passed a Joint Resolution that would ask voters to decide if future constitutional amendments proposed via the initiative petition process should require both a statewide majority and a majority in five of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.