Kansas Online Sports Betting Commission Looks to Add Chapter to State’s Rich Gambling History

Kansas Online Sports Betting Commission Looks to Add Chapter to State’s Rich Gambling History
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The Sunflower State is making waves, trying to become the latest state to legalize mobile sports betting by passing Senate Bill 84.

The legislation, which allows the state’s four state-owned casinos and handful of professional sports teams to partner with mobile and retail sportsbook operators, would pave the way for Kansas to join Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and more in giving the green light to wagering.

It would be the biggest development in Kansas gaming since 2007, when the state’s legislature passed the Expanded Lottery Act, which granted the ability to own and operate a "destination casino resort" in the four quadrants of the state.

Fast forward a decade-and-a-half, and online sportsbooks in Kansas are trying to make its way through the state's Senate.

Todd Allen, who serves as the governmental relations manager for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, told BetKansas.com the language of KS84, which includes three skins for each of the four state-owned casinos and other measures, would ensure the state’s sports betting market hits the ground running.

“All of us want to make sure that gaming is being conducted with integrity and make sure that, while the casinos want to do well, we want to make sure that our patrons are able to be able to win some as well,” Allen said.

How Kansas Sports Betting Compares to Neighboring States

Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton told BetKansas.com the state’s sports betting model will share similar traits to the existing structures of neighboring states like Colorado and Wyoming, but the finalized product will be uniquely Kansan in nature.

“I think this bill is a great step towards moving more towards the future and towards economic development, because sports teams certainly do provide that,” Clayton said. “And so, I think that this is a really good pro-business move and so I was happy to support (SB84).”

Both Clayton and Brendan Bussmann, who has served as a partner and director of government affairs for gaming and hospitality consulting firm Global Market Advisors since 2015, see Kansas’ sports betting market as one that no shortage of Kansas betting app operators will be interested in.

One thing Bussmann finds interesting is what state the Kansas sports betting scene will most resemble, with a pair of neighboring ones (Colorado and Wyoming) being the first that come to mind.

For Bussmann, the state’s sports betting market shares a lot more in common with the latter of the two, given the markets’ small population (2.9 million for Kansas vs. 582,328 for Wyoming) and size.

“With the number of licenses that look available right now, it's probably a little bit more Wyoming than it is Colorado,” Bussmann said. “And partially that's from a population standpoint, but nothing else. Kansans love their sports. You see that with Kansas and Wichita State basketball, as well as Kansas State football.

"So, the key to this is obviously the mobile component that allows the entire state to benefit and be able to do it as opposed to just those in close proximity to a casino."

One could expect potential handle in the state to range from the $64.6 million Wyoming raked in from September 2021 through February 2022 (the state’s first six months of mobile sports betting) to the $2.850 billion Colorado has generated during the same time frame.

Either way, 2022 could go down as a historic one for the Sunflower State if legalized wagering comes to Kansas.

“I think there's a lot of interest right now for sports wagering,” Allen said. “I think, just hearing from several people, I think they've wanted (sports betting) for several years now. And we're hearing a lot of stories about people taking off and going into Iowa to place sports bets. And so, I think there's going be a lot of interest.

“The good thing in my eyes is if we can get a product that can be regulated, I feel like maybe that's going to deter some of the illegal gambling that's taking place. So, in my eyes, that's a good thing.”

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Contributors

Christopher Boan is a lead writer at BetKansas.com specializing in covering state issues. He covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years.

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