JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A move in the Missouri Legislature might have given new life to legalized sports betting.
And if not, some Missouri professional sports teams could be preparing to take action into their own hands.
Republican state Rep. Dan Houx of Warrensburg has attached sports betting to a bill that tries to incentivize investments in rural parts of the state.
The incentives for rural parts of Missouri is part of a bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Denny Hoskins, the lawmaker taking the blame for why sports betting hasn’t become legalized yet.
The attachment comes as the St. Louis Cardinals recently said they’d be interested in getting sports betting legalized in Missouri through the initiative petition process.
If the team got enough signatures, every Missouri voter would have a say in whether they think sports betting should be legalized.
“It seems like that’s the way that things are going now in other places, so if other places are going to have it,” Kansas City resident Payton Kearns told FOX4 Tuesday. “Same thing with recreational marijuana — we might as well, we might as well get on board with that.”
As a Kansas City resident, Kearns can take advantage of the fact that sports betting is legal just across the state line in Kansas.
“I’ll keep an eye on the promotions that those big sports books will run, and if I see something I like, I live downtown, so it’s 10 minutes to the Kansas side,” he continued. “I’ll take a jaunt over there and place a bet or two.”
The Kansas City Royals are also interested in a petition campaign to legalize sports betting in Missouri.
“The Kansas City Royals are aligned with the coalition of professional sports franchises across the state and share the same frustration when it comes to the lack of progress in Jefferson City,” Royals senior VP and chief legal officer said in a statement to FOX4 Tuesday. “We are open to considering a joint initiative petition campaign at some point soon.”
The Kansas City Chiefs would not respond to a request for comment.
The Cardinals and Royals’ push comes at a time that Republican lawmakers are also trying to make it harder for the constitution to be passed through the imitative petition process.
On Tuesday, lawmakers passed a bill in the House saying petitions would need to pass with 57% of the vote statewide instead of the current simple majority, or 50% plus one vote.
Meanwhile, Hoskins, who lives in the same city as Houx, isn’t supportive of his fellow lawmaker’s move.
“I told him it didn’t fit and encouraged him not to offer the amendment,” Hoskins said in reaction to Houx’s amendment Tuesday.
Lawmakers have a 6 p.m. Friday deadline to try and get sports betting passed during the 2023 legislative session.