Sports Wagering Bill in Kansas Passes Senate, Heads to House

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Kansas is making quick progress with an attempt to introduce legal sports gambling to the state. At the beginning of the year, the Senate introduced a sports gambling bill, Senate Bill 84 (SB 84), before approving it by a 26-12 margin in February.

That was a crucial step that allowed the bill to be sent to the House, where it now resides temporarily ahead of the discussion. As long as there isn’t any major resistance, it’s possible that Kansas might have a live sports gambling market before the upcoming NFL season in August. 

SB 84 Makes Headway

SB 84 would amend the existing lottery act in Kansas to include sports gambling and has already found significant support from lawmakers. It would allow the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission to oversee the activity while giving existing land-based casinos permission to purchase a license to operate both land-based and online sportsbooks. All four of the state’s casinos are controlled by the Kansas Lottery, which could authorize up to three online sportsbook platforms for each of the casinos.

The bill is now going to be discussed by the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs. In previous years, the Senate has not obstructed attempts to introduce sports gambling to the state, but finding enough support in the House has been an issue. Delays in approving legislation haven’t always been the chamber’s fault, though, as a bill introduced last year died in the House due to COVID-19. With lawmakers turning to more pressing issues, the legislation was never addressed and, as a result, lapsed. This forced the process to start again this year. 

Possible Launch Ahead Of NFL Season

Should the House advance the bill quickly, it would mean that it could be approved and a legal market introduced before August, when the NFL preseason games are scheduled to begin. Governor Laura Kelly has previously shown support for the introduction of a legal sports gambling market, which should help the bill’s chances. A legal market would give the state 7.5% in tax revenue from land-based wagers and 10% from online bets, which is essentially free money for the state. 

Kansas doesn’t have any laws that prohibit state residents from gambling through offshore sportsbooks. As has been noted in several states considering sports gambling legislation, Kansas recognizes that these alternatives are regularly used and that the state is currently losing the potential revenue that is going to the offshore operators. Bringing a legal market to the state would allow Kansas to attract that revenue while, at the same time, having the funds necessary to address problem gambling. SB 84 would allocate 2% of the revenue to fund a grant for problem gambling and addiction. 

Sportsbooks Ready For Action

Several sportsbooks have already set themselves up to become part of the Kansas market should it go live. PointsBet is partnered with Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel, and Boyd Gaming, which runs the Kansas Star Casino, is partnered with FanDuel. Penn National Gaming, which purchased Barstool Sportsbook last year, runs the Hollywood Casino. The latter casino is also likely to develop a partnership with the nearby Kansas Speedway, leading to the introduction of a sportsbook at that facility, as well.  

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