Kansas Sports Betting Hitting Its Stride While Casinos Remain Strong

Kansas Sports Betting Hitting Its Stride While Casinos Remain Strong
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

It has been just under three months since Kansas sportsbooks launched, and the Sunflower State has yet to look back.

Between the half-dozen online sportsbooks that have taken in more than $350 million in wagers and the four state-owned casinos that have consistently generated sky-high revenues on a monthly basis, now is a good time to be involved with gaming in the heart of the Midwest.

For DJ Lopez, the new Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission’s director of sports wagering, the past few months have been a whirlwind for all involved. Lopez has been with the KRGC since 2008, most recently as a Regional Security Manager. He recently replaced Todd Allen, who returned to a role in financial investigations with the KRGC, as director of wagering.

Kansas Sports Betting a Winner Early On

Above all, the Kansas sports betting apps launch cycle has been a show of what teamwork and industry-wide camaraderie are capable of, Lopez said.

“It's just been full steam ahead,” Lopez told BetKansas.com. "(Sports betting has) been a good thing for Kansas. There hasn’t really been any material changes or anything like that. I think some of the lottery gaming facility managers or the casinos are looking to maybe add some new skins, or some new platforms, but I think that might come after the first of the year.”

Kansas sportsbooks have seen immediate growth since the state’s “soft launch” Sept. 1, taking in $160.5 million in wagers during the opening month of operations, followed by an 18.3% increase to $189.9 million in October.

For Lopez and the KRGC’s commissioners, the early adoption of the state’s newest form of gaming has been proof the breakneck pace with which the Sunflower State adopted sports betting was a worthwhile venture.

He doesn’t expect the state’s good wagering fortunes to change anytime soon, with the Kansas City Chiefs holding the second-best Super Bowl odds on BetMGM Sportsbook Kansas (+450) and the Kansas Jayhawks holding the seventh-best NCAA title odds at +1600.

“I think (sports betting is) going to be a huge thing (for the state), especially with the Super Bowl, and then also with March Madness, coming up,” Lopez said. “I think, as popular as sports wagering is here, I think it'll get expanded even more with the next several months, especially with those huge sporting events coming up. I really do think it's going to be a great thing for the state.”

Other Kansas Gaming Items of Interest

Among the other subjects covered during the KRGC’s monthly meeting in Topeka on Friday was the material debt transaction of Kansas Crossing in Pittsburg, from JNB Gaming to Peninsula Pacific Entertainment Holdings, LLC.

The deal, whose terms weren’t released, allows Peninsula Pacific Entertainment Holdings to reenter the Kansas casino space after starting Kansas Star Casino in 2011.

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment Holdings originally built and operated the Mulvane facility from its 2011 inception until selling it to Boyd Gaming in 2012.

Kansas Casinos See Mostly Strong Returns in October

Another item of interest for the KRGC’s commissioners was the revenue report for the Sunflower State’s four casinos in October.

Overall, Kansas casinos reported $32,954,485 in revenue during October, down 2.3% from September ($33,745,696) and down 2.5% from October 2021 ($33,812,452).

The biggest winners during the month were Kansas Star and Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which hauled in $12.841 million and $12.804 million, respectively.

The take for October represented a 6.7% year-over-year decline for Kansas Star (from $13.756 million in October 2021), while Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway gained 1.8% from their $12.576 million haul in October 2021.  

The state’s other two casinos raked in $4.095 million (Boot Hill Casino) and $3.213 million (Kansas Crossing) in October. That capped a strong month for casino and sports betting play in the market, according to Lopez.

“Year-over-year, my personal opinion is the revenues coming in on the casino side have been excellent,” Lopez said. “They’ve grown, obviously, from the COVID year. And I think they've grown quite a bit. And I think it’s been a pretty good year on the casino side. And the same goes for sports wagering.”

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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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