After years of waiting, Kansans will soon be able to legally wager on sporting events as Governor Laura Kelly paved the way for a new era of legal sports betting when she signed Senate Bill 84 into law on May 12. It allows for 12 online sportsbooks to launch in the Sunflower State as soon as the regulatory framework is finalized.
“Legalizing sports betting will bring more revenue to our state and grow our economy,” Kelly said. “This is another mechanism that casinos, restaurants, and other entertainment venues can now utilize to attract Kansans to their establishments.”
The state-affiliated casinos stand to make $9 million to $45 million annually on sportsbooks. It will also bring in some money to the state government. The Kansas Lottery estimates taxes on legal sports betting would bring in up to $10 million a year by 2025. Eighty percent of state revenue from legal gambling on sports will go into a Kansas Department of Commerce fund to be used to support the establishment of a professional sports facility in Kansas, to lure a team such as the Kansas City Chiefs across state lines.
The long-sought law gained approval 73 to 49 in the House, and, in the waning hours of the veto session, the Senate followed suit 21 to 13. Opponents argued that the 10% state tax on sports gambling generating $1 million to $5 million in annual revenue was not enough financial incentive to legalize the activity. Already having contributed to 65,000 problem gamblers in Kansas, an official leeway would risk more trouble with this potential addiction.
Republican Sen. Rob Olson said he was excited to finally legalize it because many Kansans wanted it. “It’s something that Kansans are already doing, and it will bring additional tax revenue to our state to help with our needs.” He added, “My constituents have pushed for this legislation for years, and now, the next time we have a significant sporting event in our state, Kansans will be able to bet on their hometown team.”
Lawmakers expect the first Kansas sports betting apps to go live during the 2022 football season, which is the busiest time of the year for sportsbooks. There are four retail casinos in the state, all of which are owned by the Kansas Lottery and regulated by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission. They can create and operate sportsbooks or partner with up to three online betting operators each to launch mobile platforms.
They can also enter agreements with professional sports franchises and place kiosks at a team’s facility to allow fans to place bets. Additionally, they can partner with 50 businesses and entities, one-fifth of which must be non-profit organizations.
While the law goes into effect on July 1, whether casinos will have their sports books up and running by then is unclear. It states that the Kansas Lottery will need to create a specific process for casinos to apply to offer sports gambling in certain ways, such as through a smartphone app. One of the deadlines for creating those rules is Sept. 1, 2022. But it appears the processes all need to be in place by the fall — possibly just in time for bettors to put some money on the Kansas Chiefs to win their home opener.
Betters on the casinos’ platforms will have to be physically located in Kansas to bet and must be 21 years or older. Republican Rep. John Barker, who carried the bill in the Kansas House this spring, said at one point that the apps will use geo-monitoring, which prohibits bets being placed when users cross state lines.
This update sets the stage for fans to place bets on teams like the Chiefs, Royals and Jayhawks as soon as this summer. In her news release, Kelly noted that restaurants would be able to offer sports gambling too.