Petitions To Allow Voters To Decide Fate Of Missouri Sports-Betting Filed

September 12, 2023
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After legislators failed once again to pass a sports-betting bill in Missouri last session, an attorney representing supporters of legalizing retail and mobile wagering have filed petitions to let voters decide on the issue.
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After legislators failed once again to pass a sports-betting bill in Missouri last session, an attorney representing supporters of legalizing retail and mobile wagering has filed petitions to let voters decide on the issue.

Four separate petitions were submitted Friday (September 8) to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office with the aim of getting the matter placed on the 2024 ballot.

“The people of the state of Missouri hereby find and declare that the interests of the public are best served by a well-regulated sports wagering industry that will provide substantial tax revenue to support educational institutions in Missouri,” reads the opening paragraph of each petition. 

The 2023 legislative session, which ended on May 12, was the fifth straight year that Missouri lawmakers have failed to legalize sports betting. 

Republican Senator Denny Hoskins has been the main roadblock to Missouri passing a sports-betting bill.

Hoskins has been able to block sports-betting bills over his support for legalizing video lottery terminals (VLTs) at bars and fraternal establishments, while also eliminating unregulated and untaxed grey-market gaming machines.

Hoskins also supports legalizing sports betting but has been unable to get enough lawmakers to support legalizing VLTs. After eight years in the Senate, Hoskins will be termed out in 2024, and he has already announced his candidacy for secretary of state. 

Hoskins told Vixio GamblingCompliance at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States Conference summer meeting in Denver in mid-July that he will introduce a bill next session to legalize VLTs.

Alixandra Cossette, an associate with Stinson in Jefferson City, filed the four petitions on Friday that would allow for retail and mobile wagering. Cossette previously filed nine petitions to legalize sports betting in 2021.

Neither Hoskins nor Cossette responded to requests for comment on Monday (September 11).

The only difference in each of the petitions is the number of potentially awarded standalone mobile licenses in the state, which range from one to four.

For example, petition 2024-135 would cap the number of mobile licenses at four, but if there are more than four qualified applicants, regulators will choose the applicant based on their “demonstratable history of generating tax revenue as a licensed sports wagering operator in at least ten comparable jurisdictions as of November 5, 2024.”

The initiatives all propose a 10 percent tax rate on the adjusted gross revenue from retail and mobile betting. Sports-betting tax revenue would be directed to fund education across the state, along with funding a Compulsive Gambling Prevention Fund up to $5m.

Each retail applicant would pay a $250,000 license fee and be required to pay a $250,000 license renewal fee every five years. A mobile license application fee would cost $500,000, with another $500,000 renewal fee every five years.

The current proposals would allow for Missouri teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball,  National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer, Women’s National Basketball Association, or National Women’s Soccer League to each apply for retail and mobile sports-betting licenses.

The list of professional sports franchises in Missouri includes the St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas City Current, and St. Louis Soccer Club.

Each professional team and the state’s existing casinos would be entitled to one license for a brick-and-mortar location and an additional license for an affiliated mobile platform.

The proposals, numbered 2024-135 through 138, also seek to appoint the Missouri Gaming Commission as the regulator, prohibit targeting minors and those on exclusion lists in advertising, and allow licensees to deduct up to 25 percent of promotional play, as well as any federal excise tax payments, from their taxable revenue.

Each ballot measure proposes to launch legal sports wagering by December 31, 2025.

The legal age for betting on sports would be 21, and a so-called “sports district” around stadiums with a capacity of 11,500 or more would be set up. Each “sports district” would extend 400 yards from the stadium and would include one retail location within the zone.

To get a measure on the 2024 ballot in Missouri, advocates will need to gather more than 170,000 signatures. The signatures must be submitted to the secretary of state’s office six months before election day, which is scheduled for November 5, 2024. 

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