Gov. Laura Kelly, who is running for reelection in November, placed the state’s first legal sports bet Thursday by placing $15 on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl in February. (Submitted)
TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly won’t know for more than five months whether she wagered wisely by betting $15 on the Kansas City Chiefs to win Super Bowl LVII in February.
She plunked down cash on 10-to-1 odds at Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas, in the first official sports wager in Kansas following passage of legislation creating the opportunity for people to make online and in-person bets. It was the “soft opening” of the sports gaming structure in Kansas, with broader application next week.
“I hear from Kansans across the state who are eager to finally place legal wagers on sports,” Kelly said during Thursday’s ceremony. “I’m glad we were able to move quickly to get this bipartisan effort done in time for football season.”
Kelly signed the bill in May designed to bring Kansas into step with other gambling states, create more gaming industry jobs and generate as much as $10 million annually in tax revenue.
The compromise legislation required years of debate at the statehouse in Topeka, but led to formation of a state-regulated system that would draw casinos, restaurants, nonprofit fraternal and veterans organizations into the mix. The bill narrowly passed the Kansas Senate 21-13 and comfortably cleared the Kansas House 73-49.
“My constituents have pushed for this legislation for years, and now, the next time we have a significant sporting event in our state, Kansans will be able to bet on their hometown team,” said Sen. Rob Olson, a Johnson County Republican and chairman of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.
Senate Bill 84 enabled the four state-owned but privately operated casinos to deploy create sportsbooks and digital platforms for wagering. That included Hollywood Casino at the Kansas Speedway, Boot Hill Casino and Resort in Dodge City, Kansas Star Casino at Mulvane and Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel in Pittsburg.
Casinos formed sports wagering partnerships with DraftKings, Ceasars, FanDuel, Barstool Sports, Bet MGM and PointsBet. Online bets have to be placed by people within the state’s border.
“We are so grateful for the leadership of Governor Kelly and the Legislature to finally get legalized sports wagering over the goal line this year,” said Lydia Garvey, general manager at Hollywood Casino. “We have been waiting anxiously for this day to arrive, and I’m confident many of our customers will follow her lead in betting on Kansas City to emerge as champions once again.”
The Kansas law preserved tribal sovereignty with negotiation of contracts with the state to move into sports wagering,
The soft launch of the sports betting apparatus was Thursday, but the full launch is expected Sept. 8 at outset of the NFL season.
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