If election were today, Missouri sports betting initiative would fail

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If the November election were held today, the Missouri sports betting initiative proposal backed by the state’s professional sports teams would fail. The poll showed it has the least amount of support of four potential initiative questions.

Overall, 60% of those polled say they are against legalisation, 36% are in favour and 4% are undecided. Remington Research Group, on behalf of Missouri Scout, surveyed 684 likely voters over two days between 8-9 May.

At issue is an initiative proposal that would allow for statewide digital wagering requiring platforms to be tethered to professional sports venues or existing casinos. The proposal is a departure from bills that have failed in the state legislature. And it likely does not have the full support of the state’s casinos.

Legalisation has been elusive

Missouri’s general assembly has been trying for more than five years to legalise sports betting. But the effort has been stymied by Senator Denny Hoskins, who has long wanted to tie wagering and video lottery terminal (VLT) legalisation together. His bills have stalled because the state’s casinos say the VLTs are a threat to their businesses. The machines closely resemble slot machines.

The casinos want the state to ban the machines, which are currently operating in a grey area. The machines can be found in convenience stores or restaurants and are neither explicitly allowed or prohibited in the state, which means they are unregulated.

As Hoskins has pushed his agenda, he has rallied against several bills that had the backing of the casinos and professional teams. Hoskins filibustered during two sessions to prevent house bills backed by both from getting a vote on the senate floor.

Who would DK, FD side with?

While the consortium of the state’s casinos planned to wait it out – Hoskins term-limits out later this year – the pro teams went rogue. Under the name “Winning for Missouri Education” the teams filed multiple initiative proposals and are now moving forward with one that would allow for digital platforms and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Earlier this month, the proponents submitted 340,000 signatures to the state for verification.

But casino companies would get only a single skin no matter how many locations they have. In the legislative proposals, casino companies were allotted up to three.

Caesars Entertainment and Penn Entertainment each operate three properties in Missouri. Affinity Gaming, Boyd Gaming and Century Casinos each operate two.

Two key wagering players – DraftKings and FanDuel – don’t have a clear side to align with. Neither company has a brick-and-mortar property in Missouri, but they do lobby and have relationships with the casino companies. As an example, FanDuel has an agreement under which it operates retail and digital sportsbooks for Boyd Gaming.

Missourians oppose abortion, too

In the end, the politics may not matter. In no category did would-be voters who were polled support the Missouri sports betting initiative proposal.

Of the three other potential ballot questions, Missouri’s voters oppose legalising abortion. However, on that question Democrats, and those who define themselves as moderates or progressives, overwhelmingly support the idea. According to the poll, 71% of Democrats support the idea and 73% of Republicans oppose it.

Missourians are in favour of increasing the minimum wage and requiring paid leave for workers to care for family members. They also support making it tougher to amend the state constitution.

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