Pros push for sports betting in Missouri

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:31 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Some of Missouri’s pro sports teams are getting behind a sports betting petition. Four different initiatives have been submitted. They are currently going through the approval process. After that, supporters can start to collect signatures.

KCTV5 talked to a sports betting regulatory expert, as well as a supporter of sports gambling in Missouri, and both saw the four initiatives as a way to circumnavigate the state legislature.

“It’s almost surprising we haven’t seen it sooner,” said Let MO Play’s co-founder, Brett Koenig.

Sports betting experts said they wouldn’t be shocked to see sports betting on the ballot in Missouri soon.

“Missouri sports teams, they want to basically give the power of sports betting legalization to the voters of Missouri,” said Robert Linnehan, a sports betting regulatory reporter at XL Media. “They are tired of waiting for this. They are very pro sports betting.”

KCTV5 reached out to the Kansas City Royals, who have previously voiced support for sports betting in the Show-Me State.

“Like the vast majority of Americans, we support legalized and responsibly regulated sports betting as an exciting new way for fans to engage with their favorite teams and sports. We welcome and encourage the progress being made in Missouri, and believe all of our fans should have the same opportunities as those in Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, and other states across the country,” the Royals said in a statement.

Many gamblers in Missouri cross state lines to place their bets – taking potential tax revenue with them.

“It’s something that people are not only doing but openly doing,” Koenig said. “To see millions and millions and millions of tax dollars that, based on Missouri law would have to go to the education system, going to other states is disappointing,”

“Missouri, every year that they delay this, every year that a bill is not legalized, they are losing out on potential millions of dollars in tax revenue,” said Linnehan.

Once the petitions are approved, around 175,000 valid signatures will have to be collected to get the issue on the ballot in 2024. In that time, the state legislature will have another shot to pass its own version of a sports betting bill.

State Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) has gotten a lot of blame for sports betting not passing. He said he supports the idea but wants expansion of video lottery terminals in the bill.

A few weeks ago, Hoskins told KCTV5, “I’m not the only one of my senate colleagues that has concerns. In fact, I’ve had four or 5 of them actually come to me with concerns for no funding for our small business or our veterans homes and cemeteries.”