Rick Skinner, who serves as the general manager and vice president of Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, thinks the dawning of Kansas sports betting can be transformative for the state and region.
Hollywood Casino figures to factor in heavily when the Sunflower State’s market goes live this fall, with Skinner and his team fast at work to ensure their Kansas Barstool Sportsbook retail facility is ready to roll come opening day.
The Kansas Lottery and Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission are hoping to launch as early as Sept. 8, the opening day of the 2022-23 NFL regular season.
“We are quickly moving right now to get everything lined up so that we can get a temporary (sports betting) facility, if allowed, opened,” Skinner told BetKansas.com. “Of course, the KRGC and Kansas Lottery have to have our management agreements and licensing procedures in places. But we already have our internal controls pretty much completed as our company’s opened several [retail sportsbooks] recently.”
A Rising Tide That Lifts All Boats
When asked how he sees the addition of mobile and retail sports betting impacting Hollywood Casino’s business in Kansas, Skinner said it’ll provide another amenity for customers, both in Kansas and across the state line in Missouri.
Skinner highlighted the facility’s location inside Kansas Speedway and adjacent to Children’s Mercy Park (home to Sporting Kansas City) as key to its success when sports betting launches this fall.
“I’m a big believer in a rising tide floats all boats,” Skinner said. “And so, it’s a fantastic partnership that we enjoy. And then we enjoy ancillary events. The American Royal Barbecue competition occurs in the infield at the speedway. And there’s multiple other types of events like that. So, our partnership continues to do well, and continues to be vibrant.”
Skinner and company are currently waiting to see the draft rules for sports betting the KRGC and Kansas Lottery put out next month.
Todd Allen, who serves as the government relations manager for the KRGC, said in an email to BetKansas.com the department should have its draft regulations and rules for wagering ready in time for the commission’s next meeting in late July.
“We still have a target date of getting draft regulations to our commission by the July 22 meeting,” Allen said. “The KRGC is not 100% certain that we will achieve this, but that is our goal. The draft regulations must be approved by our commission before the regulations can start through the formal process of approval from the State of Kansas.”
For Skinner, the state legislature’s ability to get SB 84, which authorized sports betting apps in Kansas, as well as Kansas online gambling sites and retail operators, across the finish line earlier this year shows how important the activity is for Kansans.
The lottery and KRGC’s commitment to an on-time launch also illustrate how committed the various parties are to the cause, Skinner added, which makes the process smoother for all involved.
“(Sports betting) essentially gives us a competitive advantage over the Missouri casinos that are located just miles away, across the border. We'll have a service and entertainment options that can't be emulated, at least for now,” Skinner said. “… We’re always looking at ways that we can differentiate ourselves from our competition to provide unique entertainment for our guests. And I think that's what we've seen at the sportsbooks that we've opened is that it enhances the entertainment options. And we fully expect it to do the same here.”
How Kansas Can Become a Sports Betting Powerhouse
The passage of SB 84 this spring could possibly open a flood of wagers from residents some 15 miles to the east.
Skinner believes the 490,000-plus residents on the Missouri side of Kansas City will flock to retail facilities like the Barstool Sportsbook inside Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway this fall, as it provides them easy access to something not available in their backyards.
“I think that our biggest response, given our geographic location, is going to be from a mile or two to the east,” Skinner said. “I think we’ll see a lot of visitations from the Missouri side of Kansas City, from people who are interested in that form of entertainment.”
Skinner doesn’t expect a large turnout from residents east of Kansas City, given the other casino facilities operational in Missouri, but sees an opportunity to capitalize off the failed wagering effort in Missouri.
The Show Me State, just like Kansas, had its shot at passing a sports betting bill this spring, with HB 2502 dying in the state Senate after passing through the lower chamber by a 115-33 margin.
“I think that's our real opportunity, along the Kansas-Missouri border,” Skinner said. “And provide these patrons with a great experience and gain their loyalty.”