Kansas sports betting stakeholders seem to be on the same page this year, a positive sign for legislation in the works.
The House Federal and State Affairs Committee held a hearing Tuesday for HB 2740 but did not take action, with plans to work on the bill again Monday.
Last year, KS sports betting legislation passed the Senate but stalled out in the House.
“This has been in the process since 2018,” Committee Chair Rep. John Barker said. “This is an issue we worked on this past summer to get people on board and I think we’ve arrived at that point.”
If the two chambers do not come to an agreement, sports betting legislation will start at square one next year, as the legislative biennium ends this year. There is still time as the legislative session runs until May 20.
Kansas sports betting deal
This year’s sports betting legislation is essentially a compromise between last year’s Senate and House bills. The base of the bill looks like the legislation passed by the Senate last year with each of the state’s four casinos receiving retail and online sports betting, with up to three skins each.
Last year, the House wanted to include race tracks and lottery retailers, while awarding the casinos with one online skin.
The new effort also allows up to 50 private retailers, as well as professional sports venues, to contract with casinos to offer sports betting through kiosks and online betting areas. Additionally, the horse racing tracks gain the ability to offer historic horse racing.
Major groups on board with Kansas sports betting
In 2021, stakeholders were at odds during the legislative process, feeling left out by either the Senate or House version.
At Tuesday’s hearing, casino representatives, race tracks and a convenience store industry group testified in support of the bill.
The main opponent is the greyhound industry. In January, Rep. Brandon Woodard told LSR a compromise was close and that including the greyhound industry would mean some supporters might drop off.
Path forward in KS sports betting
Barker nearly took a vote on the bill Tuesday before deciding to work on the bill in committee rather than on the House floor.
On the Senate side, Sen. Rob Olson is taking the lead on sports betting. Olson chairs the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which handles gambling legislation.
“I believe it’s gonna happen,” Olson told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Missouri adding pressure?
As Kansas starts its discussions this year, Missouri sports betting talks are well underway. A coalition of casinos, sports teams and sportsbook operators are backing a bill moving forward in the House, while the Senate also began hearings on the bill.
It is possible if one of the two states legalizes sports betting, the other will feel the pressure to as well.
“I think it does have an influence,” Barker told the Capital-Journal. “We would like to have people stay in Kansas and make their bets. It is probably a small portion of it, but so many other states are doing it. It is time we get on board.”
To the west of Kansas, Colorado sports betting is considered by many to be a model legal sports betting jurisdiction.