The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the stretch run of the state legislative session in 2020, leaving Kansas sports betting hopes as dust in the wind.
Kansas took a big step toward legalizing sports betting in February 2020 when the Senate passed a bill to allow for retail and mobile sports wagering through its four state-owned casinos operated by private companies.
The House held a committee hearing on Kansas sports betting on March 13. Less than a week later, the legislature adjourned early due to the virus.
The future of KS sports betting
The advances in the Senate leave KS sports betting in a strong position for legalization in 2021, but there is still a lot of work to be done to reach an agreement on the details.
Reports indicated that Gov. Laura Kelly wouldn’t sign the Kansas sports betting bill as passed by the Senate.
The bill allowed for limited online state lottery ticket sales, and Kelly reportedly wanted more opportunities for the state to make revenue through iLottery.
When will online sports betting launch in Kansas?
Mobile Kansas sports betting could be available by the end of 2021 if the Senate, House, and governor can come to an agreement on the details.
Kansas explored a tiered tax rate in 2020, with the Senate bill setting an 10% tax on online sports betting revenues while the House sought 20%.
Recent KS DFS and sports betting news
Legal options for betting in Kansas
Betting on horse races is legal in Kansas, although there are no tracks currently operating in the state.
There are illegal offshore websites that offer sports betting in Florida. They do not hold a license from any US jurisdiction to legally accept bets from residents.
Without regulation from the state, these offshore betting apps can’t be counted on to pay out winnings and have been known to disappear with people’s money.
The only safe and protected way to bet on sports in the United States is to do so with a licensed operator.
Most popular sports to bet on in Kansas
Although there are no franchises of the four major professional sports in Kansas, that doesn’t mean there aren’t rabid sports fans in the Sunflower State.
If you’ve ever heard the chant “Rock chalk, Jayhawk,” you know there’s a fervor inside Kansas for college basketball.
In professional sports, many Kansans support the teams of Missouri.
NCAA betting in Kansas
The Kansas Jayhawks would undoubtedly draw the most betting interest. One of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country, the Jayhawks were favored to add a fourth NCAA Tournament title before the coronavirus canceled March Madness.
The Kansas State Wildcats and Witchita State Shockers also have their moments on the hardwood.
NFL betting in Kansas
The NFL is the most bet-upon sports league in the US, and Kansans mostly support their namesake Kansas City Chiefs. Even before winning the 2020 Super Bowl, all Chiefs games were televised throughout the state.
Western Kansans sometimes support the Denver Broncos, and America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, also is popular.
NBA betting in Kansas
While Kansas doesn’t have an NBA team, basketball is extremely popular for betting in the midwest. Most Kansans go for their neighbors to the south, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kansas Jayhawks fans might follow their best former player currently in the NBA, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.
MLB betting in Kansas
Kansas City Royals fans also flow over the Kansas-Missouri state line. The Royals captured a new generation of fans when they won their first World Series in 30 years in 2015.
MLS betting in Kansas
The lone top-level professional sports team in the state is the Kansas City Wizards in MLS. The bill passed by the Senate in 2020 would have allowed for KS sports betting areas around Children’s Mercy Park, where the Wizards play.
Motorsports betting in Kansas
Two annual NASCAR races are held at the Kansas Speedway. The 2020 Senate bill would have allowed KS sports betting areas around the Speedway in partnership with one of the state-owned casinos.
Kansas and Daily Fantasy Sports
While daily fantasy sports operate in a gray area in many states, there is no question of their legality in Kansas.
The state cleared up the issue in 2015 when then-Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill legalizing fantasy sports.
Major DFS sites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo!, and Fantasy Draft operate in Kansas.
Is horse racing legal in Kansas?
Yes, but no live horse racing has taken place in the state since 2008.
In 1987, following voter approval of a constitutional amendment, the Kansas legislature legalized horse and greyhound racing with the Kansas Parimutuel Racing Act. The hub of greyhound breeding in the US is in Abilene, KS.
The three horse racing tracks and one greyhound track that operated in the state closed shortly after Kansas legalized casino gaming with the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act of 2007.
That act also permitted racetracks to offer slot machines, but at a 40% tax compared to the 22% tax paid by the casinos.
There are discussions that the tracks could reopen if permitted to offer sports betting and put on a level playing field with casinos for the tax rate on electronic gaming machines. An amendment to the 2020 Kansas sports betting bill on the Senate floor lowering the slot machine tax for racetracks to 22% failed by a narrow margin.
Kansas sports betting timeline
The Kansas Senate embraced a more industry-friendly path in 2020 and passed a bill that authorized sports betting at the four state-owned casinos with a tiered tax structure of 7.5% for wagers placed in person and 10% for wagers placed online.
A House hearing showed the Senate bill had universal support from the casinos but opposition from the non-operating racetracks, horse and greyhound industries in Kansas. There were also reports that Gov. Laura Kelly wouldn’t sign the Senate bill as passed.
There were big differences between the Senate bill and the House bill, which sought to allow sports wagering at up to 1,200 lottery retailers, double the tax rate and require the use of official league data.
It was already going to be a difficult path to iron out those differences, but any chance for the legislature to finish KS sports betting were upended by the coronavirus cutting the legislative session three weeks short.
After getting out to an early start with action the previous year, Kansas sports betting seemed to be a good bet entering 2019.
However, the legislative effort never got off the ground as an agreement couldn’t be reached on who would run sports betting.
The Kansas Constitution specifies that the state must run any gambling. This is why the state owns the four casinos but partnered with gaming companies to operate and run them.
An effort for the lottery to run KS sports betting at a 50% tax rate drew opposition from the casino companies, killing the efforts.
The Kansas legislature has been at it with sports betting legislation since before the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018.
Back in 2018, Kansas was trying to be one of the first states out of the gate with sports betting.
The legislature held hearings on three bills, including one that would have authorized the Kansas Lottery to conduct wagering at lottery retailers and by contracting with gaming and horse racing facilities.
Kansas was one of the first states in which a sports betting integrity fee appeared in favor of the professional sports leagues.
Kansas sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Kansas?
No. Right now, there are no legal options for Kansas sports betting. That could change in the future, as state legislators appear interested in legalizing wagering.
Who would oversee sports betting in Kansas?
The Kansas Lottery would oversee sports betting with the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission also involved in regulation.
Will mobile KS sports betting be allowed?
Yes, likely so. Based on the bill passed by the Kansas Senate in 2020 and ones introduced in the House, mobile sports wagering is likely to be allowed in Kansas.
There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from the United States. Are those legal options?
No. There are currently no sportsbook operators that are licensed at the federal level, which means all US sportsbooks are licensed at the state level. Any website that suggests betting from anywhere in the US is allowed is a website that operators offshore. It is not legal for those sites to accept bets from US citizens and those sites offer no protection to those who bet on them.