Prospects Dim As Kansas Sports Betting Bill Stalls Out In House

Posted on April 1, 2021
Kansas sports betting
Posted By on April 1, 2021

Efforts to legalize Kansas sports betting stalled Tuesday.

The Kansas House Committee of the Whole voted against a Substitution for SB 84, 77-40. The bill had passed the Senate, 26-12, in early March.

While not completely dead, the outlook doesn’t look promising for sports betting in Kansas this year. It could come back around, or HB 2444 could make a push before the legislature adjourns in May.

Any chance for KS sports betting bill?

Kansas entered the year as one of the states with a promising outlook, as the Senate pushed a bill forward in 2020 before the COVID-19 shutdown.

“It does stand a strong chance of passing, but will depend on a few key changes,” Rep. Samantha Poetter wrote to LSR in an email.

Poetter has been a proponent of legalizing sports betting and even wore a Barstool Sports sweatshirt during a hearing.

“The good news is that it can be brought back up before the session adjourns. The bad news is that we may not have time to work all the issues out with it before then,” Poetter wrote.

Kansas House committee veered from Senate

What the House voted down was different than the SB 84 passed out of the Senate.

The Senate’s bill would expand the state lottery, and allow each of the state’s four casinos to open a retail sportsbook and partner with three mobile sportsbook operators. Operators like BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings supported the bill.

Sporting facilities like the Kansas Speedway also could partner with a casino for an online sports betting area.

The state would tax in-person bets at 5.5% and online wagers at 8% under the Senate bill. The Kansas Lottery estimates the state’s bettors could wager more than $600 million each year.

What’s in the substitute Kansas sports betting bill

The House Committee on Federal and State Affairs stripped out the Senate contents and put in the bulk of HB 2199.

In multiple hearings in both the Senate and House, the state’s lottery retailers were upset at their exclusion.

“We stand against this bill for one reason: we’re not in it,” Fuel True Executive Director Tom Palace said on behalf of the state’s energy and convenience stores during a hearing on SB 84.

The House substitute included a lottery-approved sportsbook partner for an online platform. It would also allow up to 1,200 retailers to take sports bets on lottery machines. Those machines would be limited to “tier one” wagers.

Each of the state’s four casinos could also partner with one sportsbook operator for an online skin. The state would tax in-person bets at 14% and platform wagers at 20%.

HB 2444 is a more online-focused effort solely through the Kansas Lottery. It was introduced March 18 and is currently referred to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs.

Hurdles left even if House comes together

If the House passed their version, the two branches would still need to form an agreeable bill to send to Gov. Laura Kelly.

Last year, Kelly reportedly was against the Senate bill, hoping for more money through the lottery. The Kansas constitution requires gaming to go through the lottery.

Main concerns with legalizing sports betting stem from how much revenue can be brought in through the lottery, and limiting the free-market competition of casino operators and partners.

Politicians are also at odds over efforts to scale back a 40% tax for racetracks. Other legislators pulled support after not receiving a slice of revenue for their preferred projects.

Kansas tribal casinos would get their sports betting shot

Both bills would ultimately allow for the state’s multiple tribal casinos to also offer sports betting.

The gaming compacts largely allow for the same options that are authorized commercially.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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