Racing & Gaming Commission’s Todd Allen: Excited to get Kansas Online Sportsbooks Up and Running

Racing & Gaming Commission’s Todd Allen: Excited to get Kansas Online Sportsbooks Up and Running
By Christopher Boan

The passage of a sports betting in Kansas law clears the way for the state to join the more than 30 other states and the District of Columbia that have already taken similar measures.

It also allows Kansans to cash in on wagering long before their easterly neighbors do, after Missouri failed to pass its own sports betting bill, HB 2502, during the 2022 legislative session.

With Gov. Laura Kelly’s signature May 13, Kansas bettors can wager on their favorite sports when the market goes live this fall. Betting will be available via retail outets, online sites and Kansas sports apps

One person who will be tasked with aiding in that process is Todd Allen, government relations director of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission. 

BetKansas.com chatted with Allen about the state’s sports betting rollout process, in addition to a host of other topics recently. 

Below is a transcript of that conversation, edited for brevity and clarity. 

Shooting for Upcoming Football Season

BetKansas: What is a realistic timeline for Kansas to launch sports betting?

Todd Allen: There are a lot of things that are going to need to take place before we can actually get [sports betting] up and running. But first off, the bill says that we need to have a background process in place by Aug. 1. 

So right now, we're working on some preliminary forms and things to try to get that process started. We're hoping that we can maybe be ahead of that timeline a little bit so that we can get some of the background started ahead of time, but that'll be some work on our end to finish getting those processes in place and working with the lottery facility managers on who they're going to use as their sports wagering suppliers and which interactive sports wagering platforms they'll be using. 

Because they also must have contracts with all of those through the lottery. Also, we're in the process of working on starting to get some rules and regulations put together. So that those can be worked out with our lottery facility gaming managers. 

So, hopefully, if everything goes well, we’ll be able to put those in front of our commission, which is our first step in the process, at our July meeting, which happens, I believe, on July 22. So anyway, those are some preliminary steps that will need to take place. 

"We're still hoping that there'll be able to be sports wagering that happens this upcoming football season."

BetKansas: Will retail sports betting launch first or will retail and online sportsbooks go live at the same time? 

Allen: You know, it may depend on which sports wagering providers that casinos want to use. If they have somebody that'll do both retail and a mobile, then they may be able to get off the ground about the same time. I’m just not quite sure if we're ready to know that for sure yet. 

I don't want to pawn this off on another agency. But that might also be a lot of requests. And just because they'll be the ones that we'll be starting to do the contracts with the providers. So, some of those could depend on contractual agreements that are out there as well.

BetKansas: Is there pressure to launch in time for the start of the NFL season or at least during the season? 

Allen: I don't know that there's pressure. I mean, obviously, we want to get this out there as soon as possible. But we want to make sure that we put out a good product. We don't want to just throw something together real quickly and have it not be a good product for the patron. That's always been one of our big things as the regulatory agency. We want to make sure that we uphold the integrity of gaming in Kansas. And with this new sports wagering venture that will be very important to us as well.

A Head Start for Kansas Sports Betting

BetKansas: Were you surprised that Missouri didn't legalize sports betting, and how big of a deal is Kansas getting at least a year head start? 

Allen: I am kind of surprised that they couldn’t get that across the finish line. I would say that means that we're just a year ahead. So obviously, I'm sure the operators are going to think that's an advantage they can use to help get some business into the state. 

Obviously, if someone lives maybe in the vicinity to the state line. That may be a patron that you can get to become more of a I think they call them lifers, but somebody who's going to be willing to go to your facility here in Kansas and maybe do some gambling and maybe that hangs on even once Missouri gets their sports wagering in place. 

BetKansas: What could cause a delay in the launching of Kansas sports betting? 

Allen: Just making sure that regulations get up and done and through all of the process to make sure that we're able to have rules in place for sports wagering to take place, because there's a lot of processes that have to go through. 

So, there’s a little bit of time here and there. And each one of those processes could push things back a little bit. 

I never foresee things to happen, but obviously backgrounds have to be done. And that'll have to be in place before sports wagering can happen — contractual agreements that will be made with the facility, managers through the lottery, those all have to take place. 

I don't know if there could potentially be a hang up there. Might one side hold out for something better? I'm not privy to those contract negotiations. So, I'm not sure. But I guess there's just several different things out there that potentially could make things to where you would have to wait a little longer. 

But we just want to make sure that we put out a good product. If you hurry something and then it's not a good product, that's probably worse than taking a little more time and making sure you get it right. And making sure it's something that the state can be proud of, be willing to go to your facility here in Kansas and maybe do some gambling and maybe that hangs on even once Missouri gets their sports wagering in place. 

'A Good Product for the Patron'

BetKansas: What excites you most about the addition of sports betting to Kansas’ gaming community? 

Allen: I think a lot of people within the state have been looking forward to this for a long time. I think the legislature has been working on at least a bill of some sort, to get this started for, I believe, at least the last three and maybe the last four years. And I think just finally, getting this across the finish line and allowing patrons within our state to not have to go elsewhere to place bets. I think that's pretty exciting. 

BetKansas: Is there anything else that you’d like to add? 

Allen: I think that's a pretty good overview. We're just excited to get this up and running. I think we're as excited as everybody else. We just want to make sure that the efforts, between our agency and the Kansas Lottery, that we can put out a good product for the patron. 

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Contributors

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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