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Flying well under the radar on the list of US states seeking sports wagering legislation, Kansas appeared on the map Tuesday. A new sport betting bill was introduced in the Kansas state Senate that could include up to 12 legal online sports betting options.
The proposal would allow for each of the state’s existing four commercial casinos to open retail (onsite) sportsbook at their property and partner with up to three online operators. As part of the agreement, Kansas’ Native American tribes that operate gaming facilities could also renegotiate their government compacts to offer sports wagering.
The Kansas Speedway in Kansas City would be able to open a designated sports wagering area for sports wagering but would not offer in-person, onsite wagering. The KC Speedway is next to the Hollywood Casino, which under this proposal would be able to accept in-person sports wagering.
All sports wagering would be taxed at 7.5% and 10% for online sportsbooks. A reasonable figure compared to a few other states currently in operation. It would also allow for all professional and college sports to be wagered upon including popular Kansas university teams. The issue of including state university teams for wagering has been a debated hot point of discussion among other US states currently negotiating betting rules. Kansas is also not requiring any payments for using official league data.
As customary in all US states, bettors must be 21 years of age or older to participate. No mention has been given at this juncture regarding new sign-up registration. Another noted point of current discussion with a few states amending their rules to allow for online sign-up vs. mandating customers register in-person at state casino locations. The bill states completing the process must be accomplished by or before October 31, 2021.
Becoming somewhat of a surprise, this is the first serious 2021 sports wagering bill introduced after many efforts have taken place in the past. Most recently a bill last year had some momentum but was killed as lawmakers were prioritizing other larger issues tied to COVID-19.
Under this new bill the Kansas Lottery, which operates the state’s four commercial casinos would have sports wagering control. A few lawmakers pitched the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission to have ruling power during a 2020 proposal. It is under debate in this proposal which way it could potentially go. Also review of the tax rate and eligibility for licensing.
Senate Bill 84 was introduced by the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, having jurisdiction over the bill. They are not expected to discuss the proposal this week but likely to address it next month. It is expected to pass the initial committee and it would then likely go through the process of discussion of further committees. That would lead to a vote before the full Kansas Senate floor.
Passing the Senate, the House would also have to be in full agreement. That would lead to an eventual final step of Governor Laura Kelly to approve and put her signature into law.
Consensus opinions believe the bill has a better chance this time, echoing the same reason other US states are reinforcing. They simply are desperate for ancillary tax funding to help the state’s deficit due to continuing problems associated with COVID-19.
Also, like other states considering legislation, Kansas might be feeling pressure from neighboring states printing success headlines about sports wagering. Colorado has achieved almost $1.2 billion in sports wagering handle in only eight months of 2020 operation. Missouri and Nebraska are also progressing in their sports wagering legislative plans for 2021.
Assuming the existing four casinos operate the full three skins planned, Kansas could attract the top national sportsbook operators including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel, BetMGM and PointsBet. These well-known brands have proved to have an influence in helping states advance their calendar to begin.
Look for Kansas to achieve progress on their plans during 2021 but not likely to see potential passage until late in the year or early next year.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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