Kansas Sports Betting Bill Stalled Amid Online Lottery-related Concerns

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A key Kansas sports betting bill stalled Tuesday after a House committee adjourned without voting over a disagreement related to the online lottery.

The House Federal and State Affairs Committee appeared ready to move HB 2740 Tuesday morning, from where it would have headed to a full House vote on Tuesday afternoon. Instead, the committee abruptly ended the meeting without voting on HB 2740, which would regulate online and retail sports betting in Kansas.

A disagreement over a proposed amendment related to online lottery sales hijacked the Kansas sports betting bill.

The committee has been meeting for the last two weeks but has failed to vote on it. The committee will meet Wednesday again to take up the bill for a third time – a perplexing development for many who expected the legislation to move to the floor by now.

But supporters still hope they will fix the issues and get through it this year. Shortly after the abrupt adjournment of the meeting, Rep Stephanie Clayton tweeted:

The Kansas legislature must pass an identical sports betting bill by May 20 – the last day of the 2022 session – or try again in 2023.

Why Did Committee Adjourn Abruptly?

Rep. Clayton said the committee adjourned because of disagreement over an amendment relating to the online lottery. The amendment seeking to remove iLottery authorization from the sports betting bill failed twice during the hearing.

The amendment proposed by Chairman Rep. John Barker would remove the part of the bill authorizing the Kansas Lottery to sell online lottery tickets. Barker said that House leaders had asked him to bring the amendment forward Tuesday.

Some members, including Clayton, spoke against the proposed amendment, which ultimately failed.

The potential revenue from iLottery tickets is too great for lawmakers to turn down. According to Rep. Vic Miller, it would cost Kansas $11 million that it wouldn’t get.

Kansas sports betting is estimated to bring somewhere between $6-10 million.

Amendment voting was so close Tuesday that it was determined by hand counts multiple times after voice votes left it unclear which said had prevailed.

Hurdles Remain But Hopes Abound

Kansas lawmakers have to iron out disagreements to legalize sports betting in the state. During the committee meeting Tuesday, one amendment proposed by Rep. Francis Awerkamp sought a ‘better deal’ for the state would be to give the lottery complete control over sports betting in the Sunflower State. Awerkamp believed that if the state contracts it out to casinos, the state would get a small percentage of money.

But Barker said that if they exclude all the stakeholders, Kansas will have no sports betting as it would turn the state’s gaming industry against the bill. “The casinos are not on board….the retailers are not on board. I can’t think of anybody that’s onboard,” he said.

So the amendment was discarded.

The current version of the bill allows each of Kansas’s four casinos to have up to three mobile skins to offer to bet on professional and collegiate events.

The state’s Native American Tribes – which operate six more casinos – would be able to renegotiate their gaming compacts to offer sports betting in Kansas.

The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission would be empowered to oversee the new industry.

How Have We Reached Here?

HB 2740 is an identical version of a bill that cleared the Senate last year, but the House did not embrace the measure. This bill includes changes desired by the lower chamber.

Besides having up to three mobile skins each, the Kansas casinos can enter marketing agreements with up to 50 private retailers to expand sports betting via kiosks. A casino operator can also seek an additional mobile license through a partnership with a professional sports team.

While the legislative deadline of May 20 approaches, the sports betting bill is in an exempt committee. It essentially means that HB 2740 does not face a deadline other than the end of the session.

Clayton said the good news is that the bill has got bipartisan support, and theirs is still a big desire to get this through. “We’re working behind the scenes to make sure there’s a smooth piece of legislation.”

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