Missouri Sports Franchises File 4 Petitions Aiming to Unlock Sports Betting

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A general view of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on September 07, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP.

While many states now offer some form of sports betting, Missouri sports betting stands out as a notable exception.

Show Me State’s bids have been hung up on legislative agendas creating gridlock in the process. However, the sports franchises in Missouri have waited long enough and are now taking matters into their own hands.

Sick of Sitting and Waiting

Professional sports franchises in Missouri have grown impatient and are now getting off the sidelines and onto the political field. The delay is mainly due to one lawmaker’s demand that regulating and licensing video lottery terminals (VLTs), or gray machines, be tied to any sports betting bill.

Due to this situation, a group of sports franchises has taken action. They have enlisted attorney Alixandra Cossette to file four sports betting petitions on behalf of their coalition. This collective effort aims to pave the way for retail and online sports betting in the state. The sports franchises involved in this endeavor include:

  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Kansas City Current
  • Kansas City Royals
  • St. Louis Blues
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • St. Louis SC

This isn’t the counselor’s first rodeo in this arena as she previously filed nine ballot initiatives in 2021 on behalf of the same group. The current initiatives are essentially all the same with the key difference between them being the number of standalone digital platforms allowed, with four being the maximum.

The mission statement is to change the state’s constitution to allow the possibility of sports betting. Possibility is the operative term as the voters can say aye but the politicians may say nay and kill the bill in the legislature.

Before the petitions can reach the Secretary of State’s desk, hundreds of thousands of signatures will be required. The strategy is to get at least one of the four on the ballot and let the voters decide. With the popularity of sports betting sweeping the nation, the chances of the voters approving appears to be quite good but getting it passed through the legislature is the trick.

In the bill, all of the professional sports franchises would be eligible for retail sportsbooks in or around their facility and mobile sports betting platforms. According to the petition put forth, the tax rate would be 10% with a $250,000 retail application fee and $500,000 for a mobile application. Betting on college teams within the state would be permissible and the minimum age to bet would be 21.

Hoskins’ Intractable Stance

Sen. Denny Hoskins has been that fly in the ointment that has kept sports betting on the sidelines while neighboring states reap the tax benefits from their own residents and those fleeing Missouri to make a legal bet in their jurisdictions.

Hoskins has repeatedly stated he has no opposition to sports betting but will not bend on the topic of the VLTs and their inclusion in any sports betting bill.“Am I the only one standing in the way of sportsbook passing? No, I am not. Do I get all the blame? Yes, I do. And that’s fine. It doesn’t bother me. But there are a lot of people who feel the same way I do,” said Hoskins.

Hoskins’ unwavering support for regulating VLTs in the state has to do with the money it would generate for veterans’ homes and cemeteries. As of now, the VLTs can be found at truck stops, gas stations, barrooms, and convenience stores throughout the state.

The casino industry has been adamantly opposed to regulating VLTs arguing it detracts from their business as people would be able to legally patronize a truck stop to gamble instead of visiting a casino that pays heavy taxes to the state.

“I think we supplemented our veterans’ homes and cemeteries about $50 million this year because the casino admission fees have dropped,” Hoskins said. “So that’s something for which I’ve been looking to find a dedicated funding source. The video lottery terminals would provide about $15-to-20 million of that dedicated funding source. However, sports betting would not provide any.”