Kansas Lawmakers Trying For Sports Betting Again

For the third consecutive session, Kansas lawmakers will consider legalizing sports betting, after a bill sponsored by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee was filed Tuesday. It would legalize statewide mobile sports wagering statewide.

The latest bill, SB 84, is an all-inclusive bill that would name the Kansas Lottery Corporation as the key regulator, but also tasks the state racing commission with some regulatory duties (advertising, self-exclusion). The bill would allow for the physical placing of bets everywhere from casinos to lottery vendors to horse racetracks while also allowing professional sports organizations to partner with “gaming facility managers” to offer mobile wagering. A gaming facility manager is an approved lottery sports betting partner.

SB 84 resembles last year’s Senate offering, which passed out of the Senate but never got a hearing in the House.

The bill calls for a 7.5% tax on revenue derived from in-person wagers and 10% on online/mobile wagers, allows for betting on all college and professional sports, does not require the use of official league data or any kind of pay out to the professional leagues, and would allow each existing physical gaming facility up to three mobile skins. It sets the wagering age at 21.

Some bill particulars

The bill would allow the Kansas lottery to have some skin in the game by contracting with an existing gaming facility manager for sports wagering.

In terms of allowing for professional sports organizations/venues to offer sports betting, the language is peculiar. The bill describes certain venues — an auto racetrack or a multi-use facility in Wyandotte County — as places that could offer wagering, but only through interactive devices.

The only pro sports venue in Wyandotte County is Children’s Mercy Park, home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC. Kansas Speedway is the only NASCAR track in the state. Both the NFL Kansas City Chiefs and Major League Baseball Kansas City Royals have their stadiums in neighboring Missouri.

The bill appears to allow for remote registration for mobile sports betting accounts, though that is not explicitly spelled out. If it does, that means patrons can register and fund online accounts from mobile devices or computers without having to visit a physical location.

Different taxes in different regions

Gaming in Kansas is divided into four “gaming zones,” and this bill would impose differing additional local taxes depending on where a casino is located. In the Northeast and Southwest zones, operators would be subject to an additional 3% tax on revenues, and those in the Southeast and South-central zones would be subject to an additional 2%.

In addition, the Kansas Lottery would be the licensee or owner of any software used for sports wagering under this bill, similar to last year’s version. The structure mirrors that of Kansas’ commercial casinos, which are owned by the state and, in turn, contracted to operators.

In terms of fees, operators would have to pay a $250,000 application fee, good for one year.

The bill also earmarks $100,000 per year for problem-gaming programs.

Midwest lagging on sports betting?

The latest proposal should be more palatable to stakeholders than the House bill they ripped last year. That bill included an official league data mandate, a 20% tax rate, and the lottery as the regulator.

As of Wednesday, no sports betting bill had been filed in the House.

The Midwest has been lagging in comparison to the rest of the country in terms of legalizing sports betting. Lawmakers in both Kansas and Missouri — where three bills have been filed so far this session — have been haggling over details almost since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was struck down in 2018.

About half of U.S. states have legalized or gone live with sports betting in the last three years, but Kansas is bordered by only one — Colorado — that has live, legal statewide digital wagering. Nebraska voters passed a gaming expansion in November 2020, and lawmakers there are now hammering out details to include sports betting.

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