Lottery Executive Director Wants Kansas Sports Betting ‘Done Correctly, Not Necessarily Quickly’

Lottery Executive Director Wants Kansas Sports Betting ‘Done Correctly, Not Necessarily Quickly’
By Christopher Boan
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

It appears the continued rollout for Kansas sports betting is proceeding without a hitch, roughly two months ahead of the state’s proposed start date for wagering.

That’s the takeaway from Kansas Lottery Executive Director Stephen Durrell, who broke down the latest updates in the Sunflower State’s quest to get wagering off the ground during Wednesday’s monthly call by the regulatory agency.

Durrell said the step-by-step process to launch wagering is ongoing, with the Lottery and Kansas Racing and Gaming Committee working hand-in-hand.

He said the KRGC is currently going through background checks on all license applicants, with the lottery reviewing contracts signed by the state’s casinos with operators from across the industry.

Smooth Sailing for Kansas Sports Betting

Durrell declined to give an updated time frame as to when the state expects to move forward with its checklist but said the two entities are making good progress overall.

Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission government relations manager Todd Allen said last week the state is still hopeful to launch before the start of the NFL regular season.

“It's our desire to get this done correctly, not necessarily quickly,” Durrell said. “We have no desire to launch something that is not effective or efficient on the first day of launch. We don't want it to be buggy or fail to give players who are interested in sports wagering in the state a bad taste. So we want to make sure that it works. We're confident that our casino partners also feel that way.”

The Kansas City Chiefs play their first game Sept. 11 at Arizona. The state’s two college football teams both play big games that weekend. Kansas opens Big 12 Conference play Sept. 10 against West Virginia. Also that weekend, Kansas State takes on Missouri.

Kansas Casinos Looking Into Both Retail, Online Options

Durrell responded to a question from one of the lottery’s commissioners on whether the state’s casinos are in lockstep about their desire for retail and online sports betting by saying there is no consensus about who they should partner with.

He said some of the state’s largest casinos, without naming names, have reached pacts to do both types of wagering in-house, while smaller facilities are looking to either partner out to do either form of wagering, or setting their sights on retail-only going forward.

“Some of the casinos wanted to focus on having their in-house, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks up and running quickly. Some of them wanted to focus on getting their applications up and running. And some wanted both at the same time,” Durrell said. “And so, we’re working with them to try and figure out what it is that they want to do.”

Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway vice president Rick Skinner said in June his casino hopes to use sports betting as a way to lure customers from its Missouri competition.

Boot Hill Casino announced in May it had reached sports betting partnerships with DraftKings and Bally Bet.

Durrell placated commissioners’ concerns about the likelihood of an on time launch.

He told the five commissioners the state’s rollout process is proceeding as smoothly as can be expected, but he did not want to cramp regulators by giving them a deadline to hit their marks for getting wagering up and running.

“We’re confident that we can get it done in a timely manner,” Durrell said. “It’s been smooth, but there’s still a couple of hurdles to get over, particularly with regard to contract language.

“We still have to look at the agreements between the platforms and the casinos … So we’re still working, everybody’s rowing, and there’s been a lot of midnight oil burned to get this thing done.”

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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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