The first full year of Kansas sports betting produced record-breaking results, with more than $1.8 billion in total handle and consecutive records set for wagers placed in October and November.
Fresh off a $260,937,284 handle in November that cleared the previous month’s record by 4.5%, it’s worth wondering where Kansas sports betting will go in 2024.
Regulators from the Kansas Lottery and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission expressed no indication the state is preparing to expand beyond its six licensed mobile and retail sports betting operators. But both did discuss varying reasons why the next calendar year could produce eye-popping results.
What Kansas Regulators Are Saying
Cory Thone, who serves as the director of public information for the Kansas Lottery, told BetKansas.com he’ll remember 2023 as the year where Kansas betting apps took their first real strides — with five months producing more than $200 million in total handle and interest at an all-time high on local professional and college teams.
“We’re very proud and pleased with how sports betting has gone in Kansas in terms of functionality,” Thone told BetKansas.com. “Knock on wood, we’ve had no major outages and no major issues. It’s taken lots of really hard work and consistent work from our casino partners and the KRGC.
“When it comes to our players, they are obviously having a lot of fun. They've had some pretty big wins. And Kansas is also making revenue as well. But the sports betting stuff seems to be pretty popular and just kind of growing, especially with how fun sports have been in Kansas lately with KU, K-State and the Chiefs. So, it’s been a pretty fun time for sports. And I think it's kind of added to the excitement with sports betting launching here.”
KRGC Government Relations Manager Randy Evans shared similar sentiments surrounding the way the state’s market has performed, despite a lack of expansion in operators.
“The wagering public seems to really like the different markets that are offered here, with six different platforms available,” Evans told BetKansas.com. “There seems to be a lot of interest in everything from college and NFL football, down to college basketball and March Madness. [Kansas sports betting] just seems to be something that the public really, really enjoys.”
ESPN BET Joins Kansas Market
One party left out of the initial round of licensees that’s been vocal about wanting to join Kansas’ sports betting marketplace is MLS side Sporting Kansas City, which is the only professional sports team located within the state’s boundaries.
A representative from the club told BetKansas.com it has no news regarding its sports betting plans. Thone said there are no plans to expand the number of licensees at the moment. One recent change is the debut of ESPN BET Kansas, which replaced Barstool Sportsbook as PENN Entertainment’s sports betting site. Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway is operated by PENN. Beyond that one change to the marketplace, the focus for Thone and Evans is to keep Kansas sports betting rolling along at its current pace.
“As someone who really didn't know much and was not super familiar with sports betting in general, I was kind of surprised about how many people have bet on their local teams,” Thone said. “I kind of thought sports betting was a little bit more about betting on outside teams — parlays and all that stuff — but the people in the state of Kansas are amped to bet on their hometown teams.”
As an example, Kansas sports betting operators made nearly $6 million in revenue in January 2023, while making less than $36,000 in February after Kansas City won the Super Bowl. The Chiefs Super Bowl odds are currently +1000, fifth in the NFL. San Francisco is the current odds leader at +225.
“Honestly, just the amount of activity that the Chiefs themselves generate surprised me — which it really shouldn't have — because they're maybe the biggest brand in the NFL right now, but I was definitely surprised by that in particular,” Thorne said.