Will National Report Bring Changes To Kansas Sports Betting?

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Kansas sports betting

There could be changes coming to Kansas sports betting during the 2023 legislative session. 

Following a series on sports betting in the New York Times last month, Gov. Laura Kelly has been the highest profile legislator suggesting changes to KS sports betting. Kelly told the Kansas City Star she is talking to stakeholders about potentially changes to the law, most likely around a special fund created for the state’s sports betting tax revenue.

“We actually are discussing that with all parties at this particular point,” Kelly told the Star. “You know, whenever you pass a bill like that, there will always be sort of unintended consequences.”

Kansas legislators, however, are split on whether anything will happen heading into 2023, according to several lawmakers who spoke with LSR this month. Kelly signed sports betting into law in May and sportsbooks launched in September.

Newspaper report shakes up Kansas

Kansas was at the center of an investigative piece in the New York Times, detailing the lobbying efforts of sports betting companies nationwide. The article made many lawmakers in Kansas “feel pretty foolish,” according to Rep. Paul Waggoner.

“The New York Times article dismayed a lot of people,” Waggoner told LSR. “[There were] things the writer brought forth that were not public knowledge, so there is a certain amount of buyer’s remorse. But if that turns into anything, that’s a hard guess.”

Waggoner said there is talk of some bills related to sports betting, but at most would be a reform of the law.

Changes to special fund most likely

Kelly’s suggested changes likely relate to the fund that would help draw a professional sports team to Kansas, a piece aimed at the Kansas City Chiefs. Sen. Rob Olson, who helped pass the bill last year, told the Kansas City Star a change to the fund was likely within a year or two.

The fund receives 80% of sports betting revenue in the state. The state has generated less than $271,000 in taxes from the more than $350 million bet since the September launch.

An economics professor told LSR last year that incentives like the fund are “wildly stupid and destructive.”

Potential for other small Kansas sports betting changes?

Other changes would be minor, according to Rep. Stephanie Clayton.

A trailer bill this year is likely to resolve some issues from the bill passed last session, Clayton said. 

“You can expect some tweaks, but nothing earth-shattering,” she said.

Changed landscape for Kansas sports betting

There will be a slew of first-year lawmakers in Topeka when the session starts January 9, 2023. How those legislators vote on any sports betting bills is up in the air.

When asked by LSR if there will be changes, Speaker of the House-elect Dan Hawkins replied via email, “no.” Hawkins also told the Kansas City Star he has “no interest, whatsoever,” in dealing with new sports betting legislation.

According to the Star, Senate President Ty Masterson has not had any discussions about potential changes.