Missouri state lawmaker Dan Houx doesn’t see the Kansas City Chiefs leaving Missouri. He’s even more confident they won’t leave Missouri for Kansas.
Kansas launched retail and online sports betting through state-operated casinos on Sept. 1 under legislation passed last May. That law puts a 10 percent tax on operator revenue, with the majority of state revenue going into an “Attracting Professional Sports to Kansas Fund” – with the Chiefs considered a clear target.
In neighboring Missouri, sports betting has yet to be legalized. But Houx doesn’t see Kansas as much of a threat to become a real relocation destination for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
“I don’t see that happening,” Houx told Gaming Today on Tuesday. “What they did in their (legislation) is the revenue goes to entice a team to come to Kansas (but) their revenues are extremely low. Say their sportsbook’s bringing in $10 million a year – it’s going to take a long time to get to $1 billion for a new stadium.”
According to Houx, Missouri is Chiefs’ territory. He estimates at least 75 percent of Missourians are Chiefs fans. When asked about whispers of a move to Kansas, Houx didn’t mince words.
“If you want to see a real border war, if the Chiefs packed up and went to Kansas, it would be something else. I think you would see memorabilia burnt in the streets, so to speak,” he told Gaming Today.
“We’re a great state and we love our football,” said the Warrensburg Republican. “It’s the whole Midwest you’ve got to think about – from Iowa to Nebraska, to Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas – the Chiefs are central to it all.”
KC Chiefs, Other Teams Want Legal Missouri Sports Betting
A new, or even renovated stadium is definitely on the Chiefs’ wish list. But that’s only part of what the franchise wants.
The Chiefs also want legal sports betting in Missouri.
Last spring, the team and other pro sports franchises in the state – including the Royals – worked with Houx and other lawmakers to bring legal options to the state. If the bill had passed, legal sports betting (via licensed online apps tied to the stadiums and casinos) would have launched earlier this year. Casinos would also have been allowed in-person sportsbooks.
“If you want to see a real border war, if the Chiefs packed up and went to Kansas, it would be something else.” — Lawmaker Dan Houx
It didn’t happen. The bill was instead derailed in May after lawmakers disagreed on an amendment that would have legalized up to 5,000 video lottery terminals, or VLTs, in the state.
In another attempt, Houx tried again to pass the bill last month during a special tax session in Jefferson City. That proposal would have bumped the tax rate up to 10 percent from 8 percent in the bill last spring, but otherwise would have been the same. Unfortunately, the bill didn’t advance.
What’s Next for Missouri Sports Betting?
Houx expects much better results when he files a similar bill during the Missouri 2023 regular session starting Jan. 4. The tax rate is likely to be much higher in the next bill, he said (between 15 and 17 percent), but would still give pro teams and casinos online sportsbooks and casinos a retail option.
At 17 percent, Missouri state revenues would be nearly double the $13-$15 million annual tax revenue that would have been generated by the proposal last spring.
“We had a hearing on the bill during the special session and (one legislator) said the number one thing she’s hearing from door-knocking is ‘why don’t we have sports betting?’” said Houx.
“People want it. The legislature wants it. It’s going to be a top priority – I’d say in the top 5 – in January.”
Expansion Could Be in the Cards for Chiefs
The Chiefs haven’t said for sure that they even want to leave Missouri. And Houx’s prediction of a long slog to get Kansas to $1 billion might be accurate. Revenue reported by KSNT-TV on Monday shows Kansas sports betting revenue totaled $1.3 million in its first month of operation.
The state’s share of that is about $130,000.
Additionally, the Chiefs have good options for growth in Missouri, said Houx. One includes a possible expansion at the Truman Sports Complex, should the KC Royals follow through with plans to eventually move to downtown Kansas City.
The Chiefs are tied to a lease at Arrowhead Field through 2031, giving the franchise and the state time to formulate an expansion plan. Chiefs CEO and Chairman Clark Hunt said a renovation of Arrowhead is a possibility in a press conference last November:
“We think that GEHA Field at Arrowhead is still one of the finest stadiums in the National Football League,” said Hunt. “Obviously, things change, and the way fans want to consume the game, and the kind of spaces that you need … those things change over time and we’re paying attention to that.
“There will be things, when we get to the end of our lease here in nine or so years, I’m sure, that we’ll want to incorporate into the stadium. One possibility will be another renovation of Arrowhead.”