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Kansas in the Race to Be “Next” State to Legalize Sports Betting

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Kansas in the Race to Be “Next” State to Legalize Sports Betting
A teller counts cash (Photo by DOMINICK REUTER / AFP)

Legalized sports betting in the state of Kansas has been in the works for over two years but has gained serious momentum among lawmakers more recently. Now it looks like Kansas has claimed its place in line to become the next state to join the two-dozen already with their own legal sports betting industry.

On Wednesday, the Kansas Federal and State Affairs Committee approved a list of amendments for bill SB 84 before sending it to the Senate where lawmakers are expected to debate and hopefully clear the way for sports betting to commence in Kansas. That approval comes in correspondence to a House Bill, HB 2199 which is also scheduled to come before lawmakers in the not-too-distant future.

Post-amendment Senate Bill 84

Senate Bill 84, if passed, will pave the way for both retail and mobile sports wagering in Kansas. After a number of proposed and passed amendments, a “final product” seems ready for lawmakers. The Kansas Lottery will regulate all legal sports betting in the state but won’t be able to offer sports betting on its own platform.

The Bill proposes a 5.5% tax rate of Gross Gaming Revenues with 2% going toward addictive gambling initiatives. That’s down from the 7.5% rate proposed prior to the amendments phase. Taxes on a potential mobile betting platform in the state also dropped, from an original 10% to 8% in the newly amended Bill.

Online operators will now get the chance to acquire three skins, up from two in the original Bill. The new Bill states that potential operators will have to partner with one of the land-based casinos or a professional sports organization in order to gain market access.

What About the House Bill?

House Bill HB 2199 is the other competing sports betting legislation currently being considered by lawmakers in Kansas. In many ways, it is similar to the Senate Bill. It too allows for both retail and mobile sports betting.

The main difference is the House Bill’s aggressive tax rate, which comes in at 14% and 20%, which could be a benefit, or a detriment in the eyes of House lawmakers. All racetracks under the House proposal would be eligible for their own legal sports betting platform and the Bill makes it mandatory for providers to official league data.

In the End…

Kansas is estimated to be a middle-of-the-road sports betting market with the Federal and State Affairs Committee, which is in charge of legalization, estimating their platform bringing in between $7 and $12 million. With a population of just under 3 million, which ranks as #34 in the US, Kansas will likely be relying on their rabid basketball fan-base and their love of the Kansas City Chiefs who actually call Missouri home.

Time unfortunately is of the essence for the Kansas legislature as it adjourns on May 15 for 2021. However, with Kansas’ Committee on Federal and State Affairs having given their blessing on the Senate proposal and sending it to the Senate floor and with HB 2199 under consideration, there is a growing sense that something should get done in the limited legislative time.

Kansas has a chance to get a jump on other states in the area looking to launch their own legal sports betting platforms. Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska have all looked into the idea as of late. Colorado is one neighbor that has welcomed sports betting and their success has been off the charts since launch in May.

Governor Laura Kelly is waiting on the House and the Senate to approve the two proposed Bills and come together on one final Bill that she has indicated she will support. So, the race to May 15, when the legislature convenes, is on and by all indications, it will be a close one.