Kansas Senate Committee to Consider Amending Sports Betting Bill

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The Kansas Senate Committee will consider Senate Bill 84 to allow mobile sports betting in the state after two successive days of testimony. Senate Federal and State Affairs heard from supporters and opponents at a hearing Thursday, at the end of which Chairman Larry Alley said the Committee would “work the bill” and consider amendments to SB 84 on February 24. The Committee then will hear the amended proposal and put it to a vote.

What Changes Does SB 84 Seek?

Senate Bill 84 would allow the Kansas Lottery Corporation to operate as the regulator, extending mobile sports betting across the state. The KRGC would also oversee advertisements of sportsbooks while implementing the self-exclusion program. The Lottery would regulate all other aspects of sports betting in the Sunflower State.

Digital sportsbooks would be able to tether to existing casinos and professional sports franchises, with each gaming facility having up to three mobile skins. The proposal would levy a 7.5% tax rate on all gross gaming revenue drawn from land-based facilities and a 10% tax rate for mobile sportsbooks. No official league data is needed as many of the operators eying the Kansas sports betting market are already using data provided by Sportsradar and BetGenius.

Additionally, the bill would list horse racing as sports betting, atypical for the traditional industry as each is usually its own sector of the gambling market. It led the proposal to call for both the Kansas Lottery Corporation (KLC) and Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) to work jointly as sports betting regulators in the state.

SB 84’s General Acceptance

Senate Bill 84 had almost all favorable reviews among lawmakers as the bill went through its initial two readings. Among those who testified, only one individual opposed the proposed measure over the grounds of problem gambling. Deb Stidham, president of the Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals, noted that if the bill proceeds, her association would like to do so with some protections for gambling addicts. In the Sunflower State, 2% of casino revenue is already dedicated to problem gambling initiative.

Additionally, representatives from DraftKings, FanDuel, Penn National, and Boyd Gaming all agreed in testimony on Wednesday that online sports betting is essential for Kansas to remain competitive and relevant for both the sports and bettors.

Lottery Seeks Convenience Store Gambling

The Kansas Lottery officials also testified that they should also be allowed to take wagers alongside existing casinos and sports franchises. Becky Schwartz, associate executive of convenience store advocacy group Fuel True said her organization opposed the draft proposal, which excludes the state’s more than 1,100 convenience retailers from taking wagers. She suggested the Senate instead endorses a House proposal that would expand gaming to convenience stores.

However, the House bill could, in turn, anger the future sportsbook operators that the Senate bill intends to create. Though the Lottery oversees both land-based casinos and ticket sales, an expanded lottery presence at convenience stores could come at the expense of sportsbook operators. In addition, the expanded retail wagering options are less likely to receive a nod from Republicans, who occupy supermajority in both the chambers.

What is Next for Kansas Sports Betting?

John Goodyear, a representative from the League of Kansas Municipalities, said that it was a matter of when – not if – Kansas would have sports betting. Goodyear, who was testifying on Thursday, added that the “when” may come down to which stakeholders are authorized to accept wagers and how much those stakeholders are able to influence legislation.

As the Senate will take up its bill for possible amendments on February 24, the House will consider its lottery retailer-friendly sports wagering bill sometime next week. Though some conservative opposition remains, many pro-business Republicans back legal betting now. Increasing regional competition for exploiting Kansas sports betting dollars in Colorado and Iowa could push Kansas lawmakers more in favor of the bill, as these two neighboring states have been draining a significant source of money by not regulating sports betting sooner.

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