With neighboring states looking to legalize sports betting, Kansas sports betting could be next.
Last year, legalized sports betting in Kansas came close to reality before stumbling in the House. This year it appears the legislature will carry over that momentum as the Topeka Capital-Journal named sports betting among its top six issues to watch in 2022.
“I’m optimistic it’s going to get done this year,” Rep. Brandon Woodard told LSR this month.
Woodard represents a district in the Kansas City metro area and attended the summer 2021 National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference.
2021 KS sports betting effort fizzled
During the 2021 session, the Senate passed a bill that would have allowed the state’s four casinos to take on sports betting, including three mobile skins each. Rather than taking up that bill, the House put in its version, which included racetracks and lottery retailers.
The House version gave the lottery and casino each a single online skin. It also included a dog racing component, which Woodard said likely cost a significant number of supporters.
This year, the legislative approach will likely be more toward the Senate version, according to Woodard. Legislators could introduce new bills soon. The House could also return last year’s bill to committee.
“If we can get the House version to be a little less free market or more focused on the best places to start and we can expand from there, we can get it to conference committee,” Woodard said.
New push emerging
Earlier this month, there was a presentation to the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs taking a look at the two bills from 2021, according to KAKE News.
“I think after a few years of hearing bills and the presentation on sports wagering, I think we’re really close to our goal,” Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau told the station.
Sen. Robert Olson, chair of that committee, appears as though he will lead the charge this year.
“I continue to be confident that they will get something done this year. The consensus seemed to be in both chambers that it was a priority this year,” an industry source told LSR this month.
Kansas sports betting support grows
Woodard said sports betting was not a major concern for him when he initially ran for office. He has since taken up the issue because his district, which is largely made up of residents under the age of 65, is adamant about sports betting legalization.
He said many of his constituents drive to nearby Iowa to place sports wagers. Colorado sports betting is legal on the west border of the state and Missouri and Oklahoma have bills introduced this session. To the north, Nebraska could also soon have retail sports betting.
“Many of the folks representing border districts are hearing if we don’t do it now, they’ll drive across state lines. They’re already doing to buy wine at Target and pay lower sales tax on groceries,” Woodard said. “I’d prefer to see people come into Kansas to capture the revenue.”