Kansas Lawmakers May Finally Vote to Legalize Sports Betting

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Kansas lawmakers appear to be giving legal sports betting a more realistic chance in 2022.

The state House Committee on Federal and State Affairs held a hearing Tuesday for HB 2740. Committee Chair Rep. John Barker said sports betting has been in the process since 2018. He said the lawmakers had worked on the issue the past summer to get the stakeholders on board, believing that they’ve arrived at that point.

Those who favor and oppose the legalization of sports betting discussed it for 90 minutes. But no decisive action was taken as the lawmakers had not sufficient time to examine the issue.

So, they will return to work on the bill again Monday.

Last year, the Kansas Senate passed the sports betting bill before it stalled out in the House.

What Happened on Tuesday?

Rep. John Barker almost took a vote on HB 2740 before finally deciding to hold off on “working the bill” until Monday as lawmakers needed more time to study the issue.

The state legislature is set to prorogue on May 20, causing supporters to suggest that the committee act more swiftly.

In the closing minutes of the 90-minute hearing, one representative feared the bill “will get clogged up.” He suggested that the changes to the bills could be introduced on the House floor. Considering the state legislature is in the second session of its biennium, he pointed out if it runs out of time this year too, the lawmakers would have to start from the beginning.

However, Barker preferred to wait, hoping his colleagues could resolve issues in time for a Monday meeting before the bill moves to the house floor for a vote.

How Have We Reached Here?

HB 2740 is essentially a compromise between last year’s Senate and House proposals. Last year, the state’s Senate had passed the legislation, which would allow the state’s four casinos to obtain in-person and mobile sports betting licenses. Each casino could have up to three mobile skins.

But the legislation halted in the House that sought to include race tracks and lottery retailers as well, besides reducing the casinos with one digital skin each.

The fresh effort also allows up to 50 private retailers, in addition to professional sports revenues, to contract with casinos to extend sports betting via kiosks and mobile betting areas.

In addition, the horse racing tracks will be allowed to offer historic horse racing.

Last year, some stakeholders felt the sports betting legislation version of the Senate was too exclusive, while the other stakeholders believed they were left out by the House version.

Is HB 2740 an all-Inclusive Bill?

HB 2740 would legalize statewide mobile betting, and it received extensive support during the hearing from casino representatives, racetracks, a convenience story industry group, and Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC.

If passed, the state lottery would oversee sports betting. However, casinos would not be required to partner with the lottery and operate their own sportsbook taxed directly by the state.

A representative for Ruffin Properties, Scott Beeler, said that this is a revenue-producing bill for the Sunflower State. It needs to be passed, “especially since the gaming interests via casino or racetrack are arm and arm on this one.”

House, Senate Must Reach Consensus by May 20

Sen. Rob Olson is spearheading the Kansas sports betting legislation in the upper chamber on the Senate side. Olson, who chairs the Federal and Senate Affairs Committee, said he believed “it’s gonna happen.”

If the two legislative chambers do not come to an agreement during this session, sports betting legislation will start afresh next year as the legislative biennium ends in 2022.

The lawmakers have now less than two months to reach an agreement as the Kansas Legislature prorogues May 20.

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