Kansas sports wagering aims to beat Jan. 1 deadline, begin operations during football season

Gov. Laura Kelly dismisses idea of luring Kansas City Chiefs across state line

By: - June 20, 2022 12:54 pm
While Kansas sports wagering regulators have until Jan. 1, 2023 to launch legal betting, Gov. Laura Kelly says during a news conference Monday that the goal is to have the framework up and running during football season. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

While Kansas sports wagering regulators have until Jan. 1, 2023 to launch legal betting, Gov. Laura Kelly says during a news conference Monday that the goal is to have the framework up and running during football season. (Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Sports wagering in Kansas is effective July 1, and the governor said Monday she is optimistic state regulators will have live betting up and running as early as football season.

The new law will allow Kansans to bet on their favorite teams through the four state-owned casinos, which may use digital or in-person avenues to engage in business. Under the control of the Kansas Lottery, alongside the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, casinos can establish their own sportsbooks or partner with up to three online betting operators to launch mobile platforms.

To date, major operators like Bally’s, DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM have announced plans to partner with the state casinos. American Indian tribes can negotiate new or updated gaming compacts to include sports wagering, a process that is already underway, said Gov. Laura Kelly.

Regulators must set up guidelines and launch operations by Jan. 1, 2023, but Kelly provided a more optimistic timeline. She said the latest goal she heard was for sports wagering to go live this fall, sometime during the collegiate or professional football season.

While projections for how much the state stands to gain from legal sports wagering vary, once up and running, Kelly touted the potential to help in critical areas.

“We’re not going to be balancing the budget on the revenues coming in from sports betting, but every little bit helps,” Kelly said. “It allows us to do things like fully fund our schools, fully fund our roads and expand broadband.”

The state Racing and Gaming Commission plans to present a set of draft rules at the July 22 meeting for how it will receive, consider and approve proposed gaming facility contracts. At that time, the commission can approve these regulations.

Under the new state law, 80% of sports wagering revenue will be deposited into a fund for attracting a professional sports team to Kansas, contributing to speculation that the state could be gunning to bring the Kansas City Chiefs across the state line. But Kelly poured cold water on the idea during a news conference Monday, saying any past remarks about the possibility were offered tongue-in-cheek.

“I have never approached the Chiefs, nor has anybody in my administration,” Kelly said. “Quite honestly, the amount of money that this bill would generate and put into that fund would not come close to being what you would need to be able to attract a major league team.”

In addition to the professional sports team fund, the law also establishes a white-collar crime fund to help with gambling addictions.

Casinos can enter into agreements with professional sports franchises and venues, like Sporting Kansas City or the Kansas Speedway, to place kiosks at their facility, allowing fans to place bets while watching the game.

The long-sought law gained approval 73 to 49 in the House, and in the waning hours of the veto session, the Senate followed with a 21 to 13 vote. The governor signed the legislation into law in May.

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Noah Taborda
Noah Taborda

Noah Taborda started his journalism career in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, covering local government and producing an episode of the podcast Show Me The State while earning his bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Noah then made a short move to Kansas City, Missouri, to work at KCUR as an intern on the talk show Central Standard and then in the newsroom, reporting on daily news and feature stories.

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