Kansas Lawmakers Considering New Sports Betting Bill

Kansas Star Casino Entrance

By the end of March Madness, Kansas could become the next Midwestern state to allow sports betting. Legislators in the Sunflower State are currently discussing House Bill 2740. If passed, the bill would allow for online and mobile sports betting in Kansas.

Supporters of the bill argue that it would allow Kansas to fill a sports betting void in the middle of the country. Many of the surrounding states, such as Missouri and Nebraska, do not allow sports betting, yet. An early start could give Kansas the advantage in recruiting customers.

There are many positives to potentially passing the bill, but HB 2740 is not without its detractors. Many opponents of the bill have expressed concerns about the motivations behind the bill. Even some of the supporters of the bill are concerned about the tax rates listed in HB2740.

What Is Kansas HB 2740?

Kansas House Bill 2740 is an article of legislation that, if passed, would legalize online and mobile sports betting in Kansas. Under the current bill, a total of 12 sportsbooks would be able to operate. All of the sportsbooks would be connected to one of Kansas’ commercial casinos.

The proposed bill would allow wagering on both professional and college sports. It would also permit sports betting kiosks at convenience stores and racetracks. Licensed operators could also operate historical horse racing (HHR) machines. The state’s lottery would be in charge of managing the sports betting industry.

Lawmakers had a chance to discuss the bill this week, but they did not. However, Kansas legislators will have another chance to discuss the bill next week. If passed, the taxes from legal sports betting will go to fund many statewide programs. For instance, the first $750,000 in tax revenue each year would go toward a white-collar crime fund. An additional $100,000 each year would go toward funding responsible gambling programs.

Who Supports Legalizing Kansas Sports Betting?

Kansas legislators have been trying to legalize sports betting for years. Last year, the Senate passed a sports betting bill but it failed to pass in the House. This time around, HB 2740 has the support of many of the Sunflower State’s existing gaming entities. Both commercial and tribal operators have expressed support for the bill.

So far, three commercial casinos have already publicly expressed support for HB 2740. To date, the Prairie Band, Boyd Gaming’s Kansas Star, and Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino have all supported the bill. The Golden Eagle, a tribal gaming entity, has also voiced support for HB 2740.

If passed, the bill would allow big-named sportsbooks to enter the state. For instance, the bill would allow Penn National Gaming to launch its Barstool Sportsbook app in Kansas. Brand name betting options such as Barstool would help electronic betting get off to a hot start. Proponents of the bill estimate that legal sports betting would generate $50 million per year for the state.

Opposition to Kansas Sports Betting

HB 2740 has many supporters, but there are also several opponents to the current sports betting bill. One major source of opposition has come from the greyhound industry. In its current form, HB 2740 does not allow greyhound racetracks to operate betting kiosks. Representatives from both the state and national greyhound associations have written letters calling out this issue.

According to the Kansas Greyhound Association and National Greyhound Association, the bill has been heavily influenced by Phil Ruffin. They alleged that Ruffin wants to use the bill to help revitalize the Sedgewick Country racetrack, which is currently closed. HB 2740 would allow sports betting kiosks at the venue, giving Ruffin and others an edge in attracting bettors.

Other opponents of the bill have concerns regarding the tax structure laid out in HB 2740. The current bill calls for a 20% tax on mobile betting and a 14% tax on retail bets. Representatives from Penn National Gaming, a supporter of the bill, have asked for the taxes to be lowered to 10%. A 10% tax on mobile wagers would be closer to the tax rate in other states.

Conclusion

To date, over half of all US states allow some form of sports betting. Next week, lawmakers in Kansas could take steps toward making the Sunflower State the latest state to join in. If passed, HB 2740 would legalize online and mobile sports betting in Kansas. It would also allow licensed operators to run sports betting kiosks at racetracks, casinos, and convenience stores.

The current bill has a large amount of support from the current gaming entities in Kansas. Despite not having any professional sports teams, legal sports betting could make Kansas a major player in the Midwest. Neighbor states such as Nebraska and Missouri are still trying to create their own sports betting bills. Inpatient bettors could flock to Kansas to get in on the action.

Lawmakers also have to consider the potential tax revenues. Some estimates suggest that sports betting could bring in tens of millions of dollars each year in tax revenue. Opponents of the bill, however, argue that it favors certain gaming providers in the Sunflower State. According to the Kansas Greyhound Association, the bill gives an unfair advantage to racetracks. The current bill would allow racetracks to operate kiosks but not greyhound tracks.