While Kansas regulators are set to launch sports betting Sept. 1, a fairly sizable hurdle emerged Thursday.
The Kansas Attorney General’s office found multiple “significant legal issues” in its legal review of KS sports betting regulations, according to an email from AG spokesperson John Milburn to the Kansas City Star. The news came Thursday, the same day the Kansas Lottery announced the September start date.
“We are aware of the urgency in this matter and have expedited and nearly completed initial review of the proposed regulations from the Kansas Lottery. Our initial review has identified significant legal issues with the agency’s proposed regulations,” Milburn told the Star. “We intend to approve these regulations as soon as the agency fixes the legal problems in their initial version.”
There could be politics at play, as Attorney General Derek Schmidt is Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s Republican opponent in the Nov. 8 election. Kelly signed the sports betting legislation in May and touted the state’s speed to launch Thursday.
Kansas Lottery confident sports betting OK
With less than two weeks to fix the issues, the Lottery is ready for the challenge. In an email statement to LSR, the Lottery noted the attorney general has approved “almost all” of its rules in its nearly 35-year history.
The statement said the Sept. 1 soft launch date remains in place:
“The Lottery has had an excellent working relationship with the Attorney General’s Office and there is always an exchange of ideas and legal theories when it comes to rule and regulation approval. This is an ordinary course of business with the Lottery and The Attorney General’s office, and the Lottery is confident that any issues the Attorney General has potentially identified will be worked out very quickly.
“Given our past experiences in working with the Attorney General’s Office, at this point we still believe we will make the September 1 soft launch date.”
Rushing to launch?
Should sports betting start in September, Kansas will be one of the fastest states to go from governor’s signature to launch, joining Arizona and Iowa in speed. Regulators hesitated to promise a launch by Sept. 8, the first day of the NFL season.
Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission Director of Wagering Todd Allen told LSR earlier this month it would be tough to launch by that date. A few days after those comments, the KRGC approved sports betting regulations on August 12.
That sent the regulations to the attorney general as the Lottery completed agreements with the operators of its four casinos. While waiting for a response from the attorney general’s office, the Lottery made Thursday’s announcement.
Kansas operators ready to go
As regulators announced the go-live date for Kansas sports betting, sportsbook operators started dropping pre-launch specials. The Sept. 1 start means sportsbooks can capture an entire NFL betting season.
Well-positioned for the start date is Barstool Sportsbook, which recently gained naming rights to the Sept. 11 NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway.