The dawning of legalized Kansas sports betting took its final step toward fruition Thursday with Gov. Laura Kelly’s signature.
Kelly signed SB 84 into law, legalizing wagering in the state and serving as a catalyst toward possibly attracting the Kansas City Chiefs across the Kansas River when their lease at Arrowhead Stadium ends.
Thursday’s news is 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 each of the four quadrants of the state.
Kansas sports betting is on course to launch by this fall after it becomes law July 1, allowing Kansans to wager on the Chiefs when the 2022 NFL regular season kicks off in September.
But there was a dent in the celebration, as the Associated Press reported Boyd Gaming's Kansas Star Casino filed a lawsuit over a provision in the betting bill that allows historic horse racing machines at Wichita Greyhound Park.
What Kansas’ Sports Betting Law Entails
SB 84 allows Kansas’ four state-owned casinos and professional sports teams to partner with mobile and retail sportsbook operators, paving the way for Kansas to join Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and more in giving the green light to wagering.
The legislation also allocates 80% of all gaming-related revenue toward a professional sports fund meant to help lure the Chiefs from Missouri to Kansas. The version of SB 84 that went to the Governor changed the management of that fund to the Department of Commerce.
Kelly said in a press release Thursday’s signing of SB 84 allows the Sunshine State to offer its residents something they’ve long craved, while showing the region Kansas could move faster on a hot-button issue than their neighbors to the east.
“Legalizing sports betting will bring more revenue to our state and grow our economy,” Kelly’s statement read. “This is another mechanism that casinos, restaurants, and other entertainment venues can now utilize to attract Kansans to their establishments.”
For a while, it looked like Kansas and Missouri would cross the finish line simultaneously. But passage of Missouri’s HB 2502 appears grim after it faced a senatorial filibuster over video lottery terminals.
“There has been for several years a symbiotic relationship in the border war between Kansas and Missouri and sports betting plays a role in that long held battle in sports,” said Brendan Bussmann, who serves as a partner and director of government affairs for gaming and hospitality consulting firm Global Market Advisors. “Kansas has definitely been the driver on sports betting this year by leading the charge and looks to still be the first one to get it across the finish line.”
Now that Kansas beat rival Missouri to sports betting, a handful of national mobile sportsbook operators are bound to jump at the opportunity to enter the marketplace later this year.
Who Might Enter Kansas’ Sports Betting Market?
With as many as a dozen sports betting skins available, Kansas’ future sports betting marketplace has a chance at being one of the more open states in the nation.
Some of the brands that have already confirmed interest in entering the Kansas market are Bally Bet and DraftKings Sportsbook, which have deals with Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City.
Others, like Penn National Gaming, which runs Barstool Sportsbook and theScore Bet, are a good bet to launch in Kansas — given the operator’s stake in Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway and Hollywood Casino St. Louis.
National mobile sports betting stalwart BetMGM appears set to enter the market as well, with CEO Bill Hornbuckle confirming market access in the Sunflower State during a company call Thursday.
More on Boyd Gaming Suit
According to the Associated Press, Boyd Gaming filed suit against the state, the lottery and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.
The new sports betting law allows 1,000 historic horse racing machines at the Wichita Greyhound Park. The park has been closed since 2007. The Kansas Star Casino opened in 2011.
An auction to sell all the equipment inside WGP, which was scheduled for early April, was abruptly canceled.
Boyd told the AP it supports sports betting, but sees the possibility for betting machines at WGP as competition which violates its agreement with the state. At issue is whether the horse racing machines are considered as "betting on racing" or as slot machines.
If they are considered slot machines, the state would have to pay a $25 million penalty to Boyd, although the law would pass that cost onto WGP according to the AP.
In other states with sports betting where Boyd runs casinos, its sportsbooks are powered by FanDuel.