Kansas Sports Betting takes critical positive turn

Kansas sports betting continues to look more like becoming reality as the State Senate reacts positively to the sports betting legalization bill, SB 84, the bill that seeks to put online sports betting in the hands of Kansas residents and visitors.

With sports betting revenue set to become a huge revenue source for Kansas, it is no small wonder that that the legislation is getting plenty of support from lawmakers.

Officials representing the retailers for the state lottery and horse racing tracks have also requested inclusion in the Senate’s sports betting bill, which as drafted would only allow for commercial bricks-and-mortar casinos and Native American establishments to accept sports wagers. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee hasn’t yet voted on the bill, however, last week’s hearing underlined the complex licensing allocation process that lawmakers will need to agree on before legal sports betting can start in Kansas.

The details of proposed Kansas Sports Betting

SB 84 names the Kansas Lottery Corporation as the official state regulator for sports wagering and proposes allowing for statewide online sports betting with online sportsbooks NJ style  tethered to professional sports franchises and existing bricks-and-mortar casinos. Some lawmakers pitched Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission regulatory oversight in a previously unsuccessful 2020 sports betting proposal, and it remains to be seen if backers of this method will introduce a follow-up bill in 2021. Disagreements over regulatory oversight are one of many issues that state’s legislators will need to negotiate as the bill begins its long process through the legislative process, including licensing eligibility and tax rates.

Getting back to this specific SB 84 proposal, each gaming facility would be entitled to three online sportsbooks licenses, meaning each could land-based casino partner could offer up to a maximum of three mobile sports betting platforms online.

SB 84 would also allow for a 7.5% tax for bricks-and-mortar sports wagers and a 10% rate for online bets, both percentage figures below the median rate levied in those states with legal wagering. No licensing application fees nor annual license renewal fees have been mentioned in the bill.

Given that there is no mention of collegiate betting prohibitions in SB 84, its means that Kansas bettors could potentially wager on out-of-state and in-state college games such as those played by the popular University of Kansas and Kansas State University men’s basketball teams in NCAAB March Madness action. However, the bill does make mention of limiting the collegiate betting offerings of sportsbooks under the discretion of the regulator.

Kansas Sports Bettors will need to be at least 21 years of age to place a sports wager and be physically located within state lines at the time of placing bets. Like other sports wagering states, players would be permitted to withdraw and deposit from out of state.

Nothing is mentioned in SB 84 regarding an in-person sign-up for sports bettors, meaning eligible bettors could register and deposit from anywhere. The legislation also looks create a voluntary sports betting self-exclusion list. In Kansas, 2% of casino revenue is already earmarked for problem gambling initiatives, so it is highly probable that the Senate Committee will add an amendment to SB 84 to redirect a set percentage of funds to problem gambling programs.

When can we expect a decision on Kansas Sports Betting?

SB 84 cannot be discussed further until late February and there could yet be amendments made before the bill’s final presentation for a vote.
Given that the Kansas House of Representatives is also looking to prepare a bill for discussion, it feels like it is more just a matter of time until Kansas finds for legal sports betting, rather than if.

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