An amendment to the 2022 gaming compact that paved the way for Kansas sports betting to launch could allow one of the state’s tribes to offer mobile and retail wagering sooner rather than later.
That’s because the Potawatomi Nation, which operates Prairie Band Casino in Mayetta, have been given the green light by the Kansas legislature to begin offering wagering on and off tribal land – but that is pending the result of an ongoing federal lawsuit regarding a similar compact in Florida.
Under last year’s compact, tribes could work with Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration to move toward offering sports betting, whether online, retail or both. The Potawatomi Nation was the first such entity to do so in the Sunflower State.
During the State House’s 2023 session in Topeka, the chamber passed House Resolution 6026, which granted the tribe access to the state’s fledgling marketplace, which includes Kansas betting apps.
The resolution, which cleared the House by a 93-27 margin on April 28, reads:
“Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Kansas: That the amendment to the gaming compact between the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the State of Kansas submitted by the Governor to the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations on April 27, 2023, is hereby approved.”
Lessons For Kansas Sportsbook Licensure
Sports betting industry experts, such as B Global Advisors Managing Partner Brendan Bussmann, told BetKansas.com that the state’s expansion of sports betting to include the Potawatomi Nation spoke to their realization that the 2022 compact didn’t pass muster.
Bussmann said the legislature in Topeka, as well as regulators in the state, failed to address tribal access during their rush to get sports betting across the finish line in 2022. That led to a foreseeable amendment needing to be made this spring.
“No matter how many times I’ve said, ‘don’t reinvent the wheel,’ every state feels compelled to do it their own way,” Bussmann said. “The Kansas bill from this year was about last year’s bill that needed to have a clean-up made with regard to tribal compacts and the state. However, we will see where this and other court cases go around the country as we look at those relationships as each state is different.”
During the House’s debate on the sports betting resolution last month, state Sen. Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City) said the ability to add the Potawatomi Nation to the state’s sports betting scene serves all parties in the future, ensuring an equitable market for all commercial and tribal entities in the state.
"It is complicated stuff," Holland said on the Senate floor this session, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. "But I do believe this was brought forth and the state negotiated in good faith with the tribe to get this done."
Which Case Is Affecting Kansas Tribal Access
The biggest domino to fall regarding U.S. tribal gaming access is the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s ongoing litigation to gain control of sports betting statewide.
That state gaming compact, which was greenlit by the U.S. Department of the Interior as well as by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature, will determine the rights of tribes in the country to offer gaming activities like mobile sports betting, both on and off tribal land.
In Kansas, the state’s amended gaming compact with the Potawatomi Nation says that the expansion of tribal gaming is contingent upon the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Seminole gaming compact case.
Should the court of appeals, and possibly even the U.S. Supreme Court thereafter, approve the Seminole Tribe’s request, then Kansas tribes like the Potawatomi Nation would theoretically be able to offer sports betting, both mobile and retail, in Mayetta and across the Sunflower State.
Attempts to reach the Potawatomi Nation were unsuccessful at press time.
The Kansas Lottery, which oversees sports betting licensure in the state alongside the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, said: “The Kansas Lottery is not involved in these processes. We would defer any questions to the governor’s office.”
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