Kansas Legislators Embark on Discussing Legalized Sports Betting
Kansas legislators are meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday this week in Topeka to discuss how to legalize sports betting in their state. As of yet, no legislation has been drafted for the session that starts on January 14th, but early feelings are that things look promising for legalized sports betting.
Issues that will be discussed include whether to allow sports betting at sports bars, or to restrict the activity to casinos; if mobile apps will be allowed, and if so, who will manage them; how high to set the tax rate; how and where will bets be allowed; and how to provide oversight in order to prevent cheating in games and fraud.
Republican Bud Estes is the chairman of the committee that will handle all sports betting bills. According to Kansas.Com, the tricky part of legalizing sports betting is in the details. Estes said,
“I don’t want to skate on thin ice on something we don’t know anything about.”
He would like all legislators to attend on Tuesday and Wednesday for a special interim committee session on sports gambling. Speaking further on the topic, he said:
“If we start passing legislation for interest groups, we could make a real mess. We need to be educated. I’m not going to let my committee go out and pass a lot of legislation right out of the bag. We need to be smarter before we do it.”
Kansas and Sports Betting
The Sunflower State just elected a new governor, Democrat Laura Kelly, who happens to be in favor of adding sports betting to its existing casino games options. Now that no fewer than seven states have legalized sports betting since the Supreme Court decision in May, which overturned the federal ban on the activity, Kansas can look to those states to see how they’re handling sports betting and what kind of revenue they might expect. For example, New Jersey recently reported that it has had more than $500 million wagered on sports since sportsbooks opened in June. New Jersey sportsbooks reported $260.7 million in legal wagers for the month of October alone.
Previous Sports Betting Bills
Republican Representative Jan Kessinger introduced a sports betting bill during the last legislative session but it didn’t get beyond a hearing. During that time, budget officials said sports gambling could generate $75 million a year. Kessinger will try again in 2019. Speaking of the revenue that legal sports betting would bring in, he said it would take a while to see the full potential revenue from such legalization.
He went on to explain that tax revenue would allow the state to have more money for highways, foster cases, the state pension system, and to help problem gamblers. Kessinger wants to see sports gambling available in restaurants and sports bars in addition to casinos:
“It will generate more excitement and interest in sports, which I think will drive more traffic into these social settings.”
He further explained that there’s a lot of opportunity with legal sports betting, like creating jobs and bringing in more revenue via the sale of food and drink.
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