ST. LOUIS—A coalition of Missouri sports teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals say they would rather state lawmakers finally pass legalized sports betting in the state, even as they ramp up efforts to put the question on the ballot in 2024. 

Versions of proposed constitutional amendments filed with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office last week would allow each of the state’s professional sports teams and casinos to offer sports betting onsite and through online platforms that could be used anywhere in the state. Some of the different versions would allow up to four online sports betting companies to receive approval to operate directly from the state.

Under the proposed initiative, Missouri would impose a 10% tax on adjusted gross sports betting revenue, after the payout of winnings and promotional bets to customers. A similar legislative proposal had been estimated earlier this year to generate around $30 million annually when fully implemented.

The proposed initiative would allot $5 million to a compulsive gamblers prevention fund, with much of the rest going to K-12 schools and higher education institutions.

The teams have considered a ballot question before, but had focused efforts on state legislation instead. In a statement released Thursday by the Cardinals, the teams said it will work on a dual track in 2024.

“Although we would prefer to achieve this goal through the legislative process and will continue to work with stakeholders to advance a responsible sports wagering law to that end, the coalition has begun work to put the issue on the ballot before Missouri voters in 2024 by filing initiative petition language with the Secretary of State’s office. We believe that this initiative petition language provides for a reasonable and responsible framework for the legalization of sports wagering that will, collectively, serve the best interests of all Missourians,” the teams said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the Missouri House voted 118-35 in favor of sports betting legislation, but it never received a Senate vote. Similar bills have repeatedly stalled in the Republican-led Senate because of a dispute about whether to pair sports betting with regulating slot-machine-style games that have been popping up in convenience stores.

The sponsor of the House measure, State Rep. Dan Houx, R-Warrensburg, told reporters Wednesday in Jefferson City that it would be reintroduced for 2024, hoping to be one of the first bills out of the House in January.

State Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, has been the primary driver of the effort to tie sports betting to the slot-machine issue. Hoskins is one of several Republican candidates for Missouri Secretary of State in 2024, 

Houx is planning to run for a State Senate seat next year.

Mike Whittle, the Cardinals’ senior vice president and general counsel, told the Associated Press earlier this week that the coalition wasn’t “optimistic that kind of dynamic within the Missouri Senate will change.”

The teams will shoulder the costs of collecting petition signatures and advertising to support the ballot question, but the move could carry more risks in 2024 because lawmakers are again expected to debate changes to the state’s initiative petition process. The end result could mean having new rules for where petition signatures come from, in addition to a voting result greater than a simple majority.

That debate over intiative petition reform has played out in the context of a likely Nov. 2024 ballot question on abortion restrictions. Voters could face a vote on initiative petition changes in August if lawmakers pass legislation in the session starting in January.