Is Compromise In The Air In The New Sports Betting Bill In Kansas?

Written By Dustin Gouker on March 23, 2018
Kansas sports betting 2018

Yet another sports betting bill has cropped up in Kansas, which has become one of the hot beds for legalization of wagering in the US in 2018.

The new bill — S 455 — draws on some of what the NBA and Major League Baseball have asked for in states around the country. It also appears to mirror in some ways a piece of legislation in New York. The bill seems to include more provisions that the commercial gaming industry could live with in a sports betting bill.

The new KS sports betting bill at a glance

Some of what’s in the bill:

  • The bill authorizes the Kansas lottery to conduct wagering in a variety of ways, including at lottery retailers, online and by contracting with gaming and horse racing facilities.
  • The state’s gaming commission is made the middle man between leagues and sportsbook operators on sharing of information, conducting investigations as it relates to sports betting, etc.
  • The “sports betting integrity fee” the leagues have asked for to date has been a tax of one percent on all wagers (not revenue), payable to the leagues. In this bill, the fee is scaled back to .25 percent of handle and is capped at five percent of sports betting revenue. (In the NY sports betting bill, the figure is capped at two percent of revenue.) The fee is also called a “sport betting right and integrity fee,” for what appears to be the first time in any legislation.
  • Leagues may ask for betting restrictions on games and types of wagers, but they don’t have the final say on the limits. That rests with the state’s gaming commission.
  • Sports betting operators can use any source of data for basic types of wagers, but leagues can dictate which data is used for more involved or in-game wagers. From the bill: “Operators shall use only official league data for determining the result of all tier two sports wagers, provided the relevant sports governing body can provide a feed of official league data to the operator and makes such feed available for purchase by the operator on commercially reasonable terms.Leagues data exclusivity only for in-game wagers.”

Compromise afoot?

The provisions of the bill seem to be a new attempt at bridging the gap between gaming interests and the leagues, who have been at odds on the form of sports betting legalization around the US. For instance, a new law in West Virginia has none of the concessions the leagues are looking for, including those listed above.

Kansas recently held hearings on the topic of sports betting, and casinos unilaterally opposed the idea of any type of integrity fee or royalty payable to leagues.

Two other bills in Kansas also exist, including one in the House which is basically the “model” bill MLB and the NBA have been pushing.

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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.

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