Hearing On Kansas Sports Betting Bill Offers Hope To Supporters

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Kansas lawmakers appear closer than ever to passing sports betting legislation.

Legislation did pass through the state Senate last year and now a similar version is working its way through the House. 

“I never thought this day would come,” state Rep. John Barker said Tuesday morning during a hearing on House Bill 2740.

Barker, chairman of the House State and Federal Affairs Committee, was referring to the fact several casinos and other gambling interests had come before the committee to testify in support of the sports betting legislation. 

The committee is slated to continue the debate on the measure Monday. 

Hopefully, between the nit-pickers and the fun-haters, we will have the votes to get this out of this difficult committee, and then on to the Floor. Bear in mind, the Senate is also a factor, here. Still a ways to go. #ksleg,” state Rep. Stephanie Clayton tweeted during the hearing.

If passed by the committee, and later the full House, the bill would then be reconciled with last year’s Senate bill before going to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly for approval. 

What Sports Betting Could Look Like In Kansas

In 2021 the Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 84. The Kansas Legislature is a biennium, meaning its session lasts two years. If the two bills can be reconciled before the end of the 2022 session in May, then the final product would make its way to the governor. 

If the differences can’t be worked out, then lawmakers would have to start over in January 2023. 

There are some key differences between the two bills. These include:

  • The House bill approves $100,000 annually to go toward problem gambling, while the Senate version stipulates a set amount at 2% of sports betting revenue;
  • The Senate version allows both Kansas Speedway and Sporting KC to take part in sports betting, while the House version designates only Sporting KC.  The latter, a member of MLS, is the only professional sports team in Kansas;
  • The Senate bill does not allow sports betting operators to deduct bonuses from their bottom lines, while the House bill does.

State Lottery Would Administer Sports Betting

During Tuesday’s hearing, there was not much talk of the differences, however, instead, the overall focus was on moving the bill forward and supporting the measure.  

HB 2740 allocates money for a white-collar crime fund to be administered by the state. Advocates during the hearing said the money would be directed toward “more electronic, money-laundering-types of crime.”

Mobile betting would be allowed on up to three different platforms. Licenses to offer sports betting would be valid for two years. Sports betting would be administered by the state lottery commission. 

Those placing bets would have to be physically located within the state. The language does allow the state to establish a new gaming compact with tribes which could then offer sports betting as well. 

There would also be up to 10 agreements with non-profit, charity, and veterans-type groups to allow for the placement of a sports betting kiosk on their property. 

Sports betting would be limited to those 21 and over, but bets would be legal on all aspects of both professional and collegiate games. 

Next Steps For Sports Betting

Barker debated continuing discussion on the measure or punting to next week. After discussion in the hearing about possible amendments, he made clear the bill would be brought up Monday. He expressed concern the committee could do too much to the bill to hamper the outcome. 

“I don’t want to work it to death,” he said. 

During the hearing, supporters included various casino interests, a representative from Sporting KC, and convenience store interests.

Most of those in opposition came from the greyhound sporting industry, who are upset to be cut out of the process. 

“I plead with you not to take action that will hurt an industry that been around a lot longer than the casino industry,” said Mike O’Neil, who spoke on behalf of the Greater Kansas Racing Association.

About the Author
Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary M. Shaffrey

Mary Shaffrey is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with a focus on legislation and political content. Mary is an award-winning journalist who co-authored "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Government." She has spent more than 20 years covering government, both at the state and federal level. As a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and the Providence College Friars she feels cursed. Luckily she is a hockey mom too so her spirits aren't totally shot.

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