Gambling Legislation

Missouri considers expanding casino market

Missouri considers expanding casino market

Voters may be able to decide if the state needs to add another casino to its market

The campaign to open a casino near the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri moved one step ahead on Tuesday. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office approved language for a ballot initiative proposal asking voters to amend the state constitution to allow for the state’s 14th gambling boat license.

Supporters must now choose which of the four proposals to distribute and collect the 170,000 signatures required to get the measure on the 2024 ballot. Over 50% of voters must approve for the bill to become law. “I think we will have a decision on which of the petitions we’ll run within two weeks,” says Tim Hand of Osage River Gaming, which supports the petition.

The new casino would be on the Osage River below the Bagnell Dam and wouldn’t likely be a floating structure because of the river’s fluctuating water levels. Tax revenue collected from the new casino would benefit education in Missouri, including early childhood literacy programs and teacher salaries, and is estimated to be about $14 million annually.

Hand says the effort to get approval will cost up to $10 million but could be less if substantial opposition doesn’t arise. “Our proposed questions poll very well,” he said.

This latest push for a ballot initiative comes after lawmakers failed to agree on their own resolution earlier this year, marking the third time they couldn’t agree on a proposal to move the project ahead.

In addition to the state-regulated project, The Osage Nation tribe hopes to build a new casino in Lake Ozark. However, they have yet to receive authorization for the project from state and federal administrators.

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