ST. LOUIS — A Missouri legislator is willing to bet the house that sports wagering in the state would be a success after the Cardinals, Blues and St. Louis City SC announced they're backing ballot initiatives to legalize betting in the state.
“I’m pro sports betting,” said Billy Schwarze. “Hopefully Missouri will consider it because I think it would be a win-win scenario for everyone.”
“Sports are huge in the United States,” said Michael Hutchings. “I’m assuming that every state will have it at some point.”
For three straight years bills supporting sports betting have been brought forward in the Missouri legislature only to stall.
“It’s still illegal to bet on sports in the state of Missouri,” said Rep. Dan Shaul.
Meanwhile, across the river in Illinois, the state collected $57 million in tax revenues from sports betting in the last fiscal year.
Rep. Dan Shaul believes some of that money is coming from the Show-Me State.
“They’re not only going across the river, they’re going offshore,” said Rep. Shaul. “If you go offshore, or go somewhere else, Missouri doesn’t benefit from that.”
Shaul is willing to wager that Missouri could bring in more than $40 million per year by allowing residents to bet on ball games, and he already has an idea where the state could spend it.
“This new revenue source should be used for our veterans,” said Rep. Shaul. “They’ve committed so much to us and we need to commit to them as well.”
With the Cardinals, Blues, Royals, and St. Louis City SC parlaying their support into ballot initiatives it could ultimately be up to voters to decide if the state should play ball.
“Now that we have initiative petitions filed by the people in the State of Missouri I think the general assembly will be much more eager to get a bill passed and get the details right,” said Rep. Shaul.
Legislators in Missouri can start pre-filing bills for the 2022 session on Dec. 1.
An attorney for the Missouri Sports Team Coalition provided KSDK with this statement:
"We are four of the major professional sports teams here in the State of Missouri - the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues and St. Louis City SC. Each of our organizations supports the legalization of sports wagering in Missouri as a way to increase engagement with our fans and provide a fun and exciting new way to enjoy sports and root for our teams. We also believe that sports wagering will generate a significant new source of tax revenue for Missouri. Sports wagering is already legal in more than half the other states, including our neighbors Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
"As proud citizens of the State of Missouri, as stewards of the sports franchises within our respective communities, and as key stakeholders regarding the possible legalization of sports wagering in Missouri, we are united in our goal of supporting a responsible Missouri sports wagering law that is good for our teams, our fans, and the citizens of the great state of Missouri. While it is our strong preference to achieve this goal during the upcoming Missouri legislative session in 2022, we are also exploring the possibility of achieving this goal through the initiative petition process. We look forward to continuing to work with our state legislators and the other stakeholders to achieve this important goal for Missouri."