Missouri State Rep. Dan Houx told Gaming Today back in October that he wasn’t worried about the Kansas City Chiefs moving to Kansas. Not even after years of failed attempts to legalize sports betting in Missouri, which the Chiefs want. Not even after Kansas created a special fund to lure the Chiefs over the border when that state legalized sports betting this year.
Turns out, Houx’s hunch might be right.
According to comments made by Kansas Sen. Rob Olson that were reported in the Dec. 1 issue of The Kansas City Star, the Chiefs don’t appear eager to leave Missouri. Olson is the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee chairman who supported his state’s efforts to set up the recruitment fund for the Chiefs (or another pro franchise) as part of the state’s sports betting law signed last May.
According to the Star, Olson says that he “has come away with the impression that the (Chiefs are) unlikely to move states” in conversations with team owner Clark Hunt.
The Chiefs franchise has been looking at whether to renovate GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium or look for a new home before the team’s lease at Arrowhead expires in 2031. Last July, Hunt said at a press conference that he prefers to renovate the current facility and just stay put.
Now as Missouri lawmakers are lining up a new set of bills in hopes that 2023 is the year legal sports betting comes to the current home of the Chiefs, Kansas might actually do away with its pro sports recruitment fund altogether.
Kansas’ Early Sports Betting Revenue Disappointing
According to the Star, the recruitment fund played a key part in passing the Kansas sports betting law last spring. That law requires that 80 percent of state revenue from sports betting (taxed at 10 percent) be deposited in the fund. Lawmakers had reportedly hoped to add as much as $10 million to the fund by early 2025. But early revenues for Kansas have been somewhat disappointing.
According to the Kansas Lottery, the state’s revenue share for the first two months after mobile and retail casino sportsbooks launched in September was $270,706, producing just $216,564 for the recruitment fund.
November was better – much better, in fact. The state’s share of sports betting dollars that month was $795,784, or more than double the first months’ totals. But it’s uncertain if November’s momentum will hold.
December’s numbers haven’t yet been posted by the Kansas Lottery, which regulates sports betting in the state. It’s possible those numbers could exceed expectations. Still, Kansas lawmakers and newly reelected Gov. Laura Kelly aren’t sure what the future of the recruitment fund will be, especially given Hunt’s apparent preference to stay in the Show-Me State.
“I think what will happen over the next year or two, it will get redesigned where there’s … probably eliminate that fund,” Olson was quoted as saying in the Dec. 1 issue of the Star.
As for Kelly, the article said that the governor has told reporters that “discussions are underway about whether to attempt to make changes to the sports betting law next year or wait.”
Missouri To Try For Legal Sports Betting Again Next Month
Missouri lawmakers don’t plan to wait around to see what else Kansas might have up its legislative sleeves. Incoming Missouri Speaker of the House Dean Plocher has supported legal sports betting in Missouri for years. According to a September story in Ozarks First, Plocher plans to make legal sports betting a priority when the House convenes in regular session starting Jan. 4.
And Plocher isn’t alone. Lining up already for another round of legal sports betting negotiations are Houx and both Senators Denny Hoskins and Sen. Majority Whip Tony Luetkemeyer – two Republican lawmakers who have filed sports betting legislation in past sessions.
Distractions are possible. A bill that has been filed for consideration in January proposes both legal sports betting and legalization of nearly 20,000 video lottery terminals (electronic slot machines that have popped up inside small retailers across the state) – the same combination that has derailed sports betting bills in Missouri in the past.
Still, Houx seems optimistic that the time has come for legal sports betting in his state.
“People want it. The legislature wants it,” Houx told Gaming Today in October. “It’s going to be a top priority – I’d say in the top 5 – in January.”