Kansas Sports Betting Bill Hits Snag In Committee

Written By Pat Evans on March 29, 2022
Kansas sports betting

Kansas sports betting legislation hit a speed bump Tuesday morning, but proponents are still confident in its path forward.

The House Federal and State Affairs Committee appeared ready to advance HB 2740 Tuesday following a few amendments. However, those plans took a turn as the committee adjourned following a failed attempt to hijack the bill with a lottery-based system, leaving the KS sports betting bill’s fate up in the air.

Chairman Rep. John Barker said he was “surprised” by the reconsideration vote before adjourning.

“Sit tight, guys, we’ll get this out this year,” committee member Rep. Stephanie Clayton tweeted following the meeting. “Communication and teamwork are key, and sometimes communications break down. We can fix this; I’m sure of it.”

Still time left for Kansas sports betting

While legislative deadlines approach in Kansas, sports betting is in an exempt committee. That means the bill does not face a deadline other than the end of the session, May 20.

Clayton told LSR another committee meeting could be as early as Wednesday.

“The good news is members, Republican and Democrat, are working together to get this done,” Clayton told LSR. “Although the committee looked like it was having some issues, there is still a big desire to get this through. We’re working behind the scenes to make sure there’s a smooth piece of legislation.”

Split opinion in Kansas

HB 2740 is similar to a bill that cleared the Senate last year but includes several pieces desired by the House. Under the bill, the state’s four casinos could operate retail and online sports betting with up to three skins each.

The casino operators could also enter marketing agreements with up to 50 private retailers to offer sports betting through kiosks. A casino operator could also request an additional skin in a partnership with a professional sports team.

The committee approved several minor amendments to the bill before Rep. Francis Awerkamp proposed an amendment that would fundamentally change the entire proposal. Awerkamp’s failed amendment would have stripped the bill and inserted a lottery-controlled proposal.

Kansas Lottery issue returns

Last year, the Senate passed legislation allowing the state’s casinos to hold online licenses. The House could not come to an agreement, with some representatives hoping the lottery would control online KS sports betting.

Although it failed, Awerkamp’s amendment appears to have revived the argument. He also said it would be better for the state’s bottom line.

“If we let the casinos contract it out, we get a small percentage of the money,” Awerkamp said. “If we let the Kansas Lottery contract it out, we get all of it.”

Could this derail Missouri sports betting?

During recent legislative meetings, representatives from both Missouri and Kansas took swings at the other state. In Tuesday’s meeting, Clayton said, “I want to beat them.”

Last week, the Missouri House advanced a sports betting bill to the Senate.

“Missouri is a better state than Kansas in every possible way,” Rep. Wes Rogers said to support his amendment lowering the bill’s tax rate.

Sponsor Rep. Dan Houx told LSR Monday he is “ever so hopeful” the Senate will approve the bill.

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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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