Legal Sports Report

Kansas Fantasy Sports Bill Nears Finish Line, Reaches Governor’s Desk After Passing State Legislature

The Kansas state legislature passed a bill allowing real-money fantasy sports in the state, marking the most progress by a bill dealing with DFS has made in a recent push for legalization.

Smooth sailing so far

HB 2155 is a wide-ranging bill that legalizes fantasy sports in the state, as well as dealing with charitable gaming, bingo, raffles and the lottery.

On Thursday, the House passed the bill 98-21. The opposition came mostly from Democrats along party lines, and was not tied to the fantasy sports portion of the bill. On Tuesday, the bill passed the state senate by a vote of 37-1.

That means the last hurdle for the bill is a signature from Governor Sam Brownback, a Republican. Given the lack of opposition in the legislature — the Kansas house and senate are highly Republican — the odds of Brownback signing the bill into law seem good.

Why the bill?

Kansas state representative Brett Hildabrand deemed the legislation to be necessary because of the stance taken by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission. That governmental organization had said that it considers daily fantasy sports contests to be an illegal lottery, under state law, even though there had been no enforcement actions against real-money daily fantasy sports.

The bill got on a fast-track after an opinion from the Kansas attorney general, saying HB 2155 did not violate the state constitution.

Despite the KRGC’s stance and the pending bill in Kansas, most sites accept players there already. Among major DFS sites, it is believed only Star Fantasy Leagues does not accept players from Kansas. Currently, most DFS sites do not operate in five states.

The current state climate

The last time a bill dealing with real-money online fantasy games became a law in a state was Maryland back in 2012.

There are currently six active bills dealing with fantasy sports played online. Here are the other five:

  • Louisiana has some momentum, with a bill legalizing fantasy sports passing the state House on Wednesday. The legislation has been received by the Senate and is pending floor debate and a vote.
  • Iowa seemed to be moving quickly on a DFS legalization bill, after passage in the Senate. The bill has not reached the House floor, yet, however.
  • Washington introduced a bill in January and held a committee hearing, but the bill has been in limbo ever since. The debate over the bill several months ago muddied the waters for its potential, as legislators called into question DFS and its differences from season-long fantasy and similarities to gambling.
  • In Illinois, a pending bill is just a stub, with no content. Its direction is to be determined, perhaps as early as later this month.
  • In Texas, a bill would regulate and license DFS operators, in addition to dealing with sports betting in the same legislation. No progress has been made since its introduction.

Louisiana, Washington and Iowa are the states with pending legislation where DFS sites do not currently operate. A bill in Montana stalled earlier this year, and a fantasy bill in Arizona failed last year.

There are also bills in Indiana and Pennsylvania that would legalize fantasy sports contests to be held in brick-and-mortar gaming establishments.

Photo by Stuart Seeger used under license CC BY 2.0.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.