As sports betting rises in Kansas, its future remains murky in Missouri
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Sports betting was legalized in Kansas in 2022 and has quickly become a booming industry in the Sunflower State.
According to research from NoDepositRewards, more than $1 billion has been bet in Kansas this year – a total that comes out to more than $600 per person. Overall, Kansas ranks as the 8th biggest state for sports betting.
Across the state line in Missouri, the push for legalized sports betting continues, but has yet to become a reality.
“It’s happening right now, and it’s a great source of revenue,” said Missouri State Representative Aaron McMullen (R-Independence). “Unfortunately, we are not taking advantage of that.”
Every state that surrounds the Show-Me State – except one – allows wagers on sports.
“For a state that genuinely, objectively has some of the most popular sports teams in the world, it’s almost bewildering that we are so far behind in this particular area,” said Let Mo Play Co-Founder, Brett Koenig.
Despite several efforts in the state house to legalize sports betting, the bills have always fallen short in the senate. Now, the pro sports teams in the state are trying to take matters into their own hands – by sponsoring four ballot initiative petitions, the same route marijuana took to legality in Missouri.
“Recreational marijuana, they were able to create a unified front and rally together, get the support, and raise the money to do this,” McMullen said.
It will take a lot of work and money to collect the signatures needed to get the initiatives on the ballot. McMullen estimates the cost to be around $10 million, which he says is typical for ballot initiative petitions. Once approved, each initiative will require around 175,000 verified signatures. However, sports betting does not have a unified front in Missouri, as marijuana did in the past.
“There is not a solid camp for the sports book or sports betting,” McMullen said. “We’ve got the casinos that are on one side and then the sports teams that want to act as casinos and do their own sports betting, so it’s kind of a fractured subject all around.”
Supporters of sports betting in the state also have doubts that the ballot initiatives will ever get to voters.
“I think, ideally, it would be easier for everybody for them to come to some sort of agreement in the state senate, but that seems very unlikely at this point,” said Koenig.
Sports betting bills have consistently died in the Missouri state senate because the issue gets paired with VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals), which does not have broad support in the senate.
More opposition exists that has concerns about gambling addiction and the costs associated with it.
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