Earlier this week, President of the St. Louis Cardinals, Bill DeWitt III spoke with The Missouri Times after a day of meeting with state legislative leaders about the passage of sports book legislation.
The Missouri Times: So after your meetings today how would you describe your level of frustration at not seeing more movement on this legislation?
Bill DeWitt III: I would describe it as an extremely high level of frustration with not being able to bring this to a vote. We have an issue that is extremely popular with our fans, popular with the politicians, and it’s blocked because others wanna hitch a ride on our wagon, and they have enough clout to bully their way onto the bill.
They won’t get what they want, but I guess they don’t care that we don’t get anything either. It is really childish behavior.
The Missouri Times: How important is this as a business issue?
Bill DeWitt III: It is important for the teams to keep pace with what’s happening all around us. Sports betting is legal in every surrounding state.
In Kansas City they go over to Kansas to place bets.
The NFL, who is holding their draft in Kansas City this month has asked the Chiefs to make arrangements to bus guests across the state line to place bets. They have the same situation here in St. LouIs at the casinos over in Illinois.
It’s happening here in Missouri as well, but it’s happening with illegal operators who are completely unregulated and untaxed. It’s a ridiculous situation regardless of how you feel about sports betting.
Even if you aren’t a huge proponent of sports betting, wouldn’t you at least rather have it taxed and regulated?
It’s not a windfall for the teams because MLB rules prohibit us from doing our own sports book, but it does activate a new sports marketing category for us, and there are other benefits as well such as fan engagement and introducing the sport to a younger demographic.
Also, we would like to control the narrative near our stadiums so that our fans aren’t barraged with a million ads, and we can maintain a consistent family environment.
The Missouri Times: Ok, so I have to ask. I’m getting a little worried about the team. How worried should folks be in the middle of April?
Bill DeWitt III: It’s been a rough start, but I think we will be fine. We have had weird luck with scoring a lot and losing 7-8 then the next night scoring one and losing 2-1.
Look, there is too much talent on this team to be lurking at the bottom of the division. I believe we will be there in the end.