Kansas governor signs law legalizing sports betting

TOPEKA — After years of waiting, Kansans will soon be able to legally wager on sporting events under a new law signed Thursday by Gov. Laura Kelly.

Senate Bill 84 allows for the four state-owned casinos to use digital or in-person avenues to engage in the business of sports betting. The casinos, established under the control of the Kansas Lottery, can create and operate sportsbooks or partner with up to three online betting operators each to launch mobile platforms.

Native American tribes can negotiate a new or updated gaming compact regarding sports wagering.

“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 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.

The Kansas Lottery and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission will share oversight of sports wagering. Betters on the casinos’ platforms’ platforms will have to be physically located in Kansas to bet and must be 21 years or older.

There is some hope the system could be set up in time for the NFL and college football seasons, but its more likely to be place in January 2023.

Opponents of legalizing this form of gambling when the industry has contributed to 65,000 problem gamblers in Kansas. They argued 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 and risk more trouble with this potential addiction.

The state-affiliated casinos stand to make $9 million to $45 million annually on sportsbooks.

“I was excited to pass sports wagering in Kansas, it’s something that Kansans are already doing, and it will bring additional tax revenue to our state to help with our needs,” said Sen. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican and chairman of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee. “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.”

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.

Casinos can enter with professional sports franchises and place agreements kiosks at a team’s facility to allow fans to place bets. They can also partner with 50 businesses and entities, one-fifth of which must be nonprofit organizations.

“We have heard from our constituents for years about the need for a sports wagering program here in Kansas, both for the value it will bring to their lives and for the revenues it will generate for our state,” said Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, a Wichita Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee. “I’m proud to have contributed to this package that will do just that and revitalize my community by creating jobs in Wichita.”

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