Kansas Sports Betting Hitting Its Stride One Month After Launch

Kansas Sports Betting Hitting Its Stride One Month After Launch
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

It’s been close to a month since Kansas betting apps began accepting wagers and things are looking up in the Sunflower State.

While reporting north of $49 million in handle and 2.4 million wagers during the opening 10 days of operation, there’s still reason to believe the brightest days for Kansas sports betting lie ahead.

“I think that we've all been a little bit surprised about just how many wagers are being placed by folks that have an interest in sports betting,” Stephen Durrell, the Kansas Lottery’s executive director, told BetKansas.com on Monday. “I think that we all knew that there was sort of a pent-up demand for sports wagering, but definitely people have been interested in it.”

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Kansas’ Wagering Tax Haul So Far

Durrell also addressed the state’s projected wagering tax in September, which was pegged at $233,351 before free bet tax credits reduced it to $23,335 as reported by the Topeka Capital-Journal last week.

The lottery’s executive director said the September taxes were in line with projections the agency gave to lawmakers as they drew up SB 84, which legalized wagering this spring.

“We tend to take a conservative approach about how much money that things are going to be earned, and how much money was going to be earned by the state and the facilities,” Durrell said. “But we’re not veering off of that.”

Representatives from the lottery told BetKansas.com the state projected $18 million in wagering revenue during the first calendar year of sports betting, with $16.6 million — or 90% — going back to the national operators who manage the four state-owned casinos.

The $1.8 million (10%) in taxes paid to the state are expected to be divided into four different funds —$840,000 for attracting a professional sports team to the state; $750,000 to the white collar crime fund, $189,000 to the state general fund, and $21,000 to the problem gaming fund.

“Although sports wagering revenue estimates may be updated during the fall Consensus Revenue Estimate process, at the moment the Lottery has made no significant changes to its original sports wagering budget request and projections for FY23,” Lottery Public Information Officer Cory Thone said in an emailed statement to BetKansas.com.

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What’s to Come for Kansas Sports Betting

Both Durrell and Todd Allen, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission’s director of wagering, told BetKansas.com that September’s wagering results exceeded their expectations.

Allen added the state’s sports betting success story should continue unimpeded, so long as the licensed operators in the market continue serving customers’ needs.

“If our providers can continue to put forth a good product and keep the bettors excited — I think what you have to do is you get those people to start betting,” Allen said. “But then, to keep them over time, you have to put forth a good product and turn a lot of those people into lifers, where they're going to continue to want to do this, rather than just doing it right off the bat as a fad.

“But I think we do have a lot of sports-friendly people in our state.”

One thing Kansans can expect in the year ahead is additional options in the sports betting space, as the KRGC and Kansas Lottery allocate the final six licenses of the 12 made available by SB 84.

Durrell said both agencies are hard at work verifying operators’ materials so they can award the final half-dozen licenses.

Currently only Kansas Crossing Casino has all three of its partners — BetMGM Kansas, Caesars Sportsbook Kansas and PointsBet Kansas — operating.

Boot Hill Casino has announced partnerships with three operators, but only DraftKings Kansas is accepting bets.

For now, everyone involved in the rollout process of sports betting in Kansas is taking a well-earned victory lap, before deciding how to keep the momentum from September alive, long term.

“The way that the bill was put together with regards to ‘marketing entities,’ there’s a lot of gray area on how those are supposed to work,” Durrell said. “So, we're trying to fill in some of the blanks on how the system is actually supposed to function. And that includes our friends at Sporting Kansas City and Kansas Speedway, as well as all the other marketing agencies across the state.

“We’re trying to get that done in a very quick manner. But there's a lot of functional things that are not in the bill that we have to kind of try to figure out. And we're working very diligently on that. So right now, we’ve got six platforms … and we'll just see how it goes over the next couple of weeks or months, to see how fast and get that implemented."

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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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