Legalized Sports Betting Bills in Kansas Are Running Out of Time

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Earlier this year, it seemed like Kansas was sure to legalize sports betting but, to date, none of the attempts have succeeded. Kansas is basically out of time to legalize sports gambling during this legislative session. This is the last week for the session and that means, if they don’t get a bill advanced, it will have to wait until 2020.

The Debate Over Sports Betting

One of the main issues causing difficulties for Kansas is the question of where gamblers would be able to place their bets. Another quandary is who will run the sportsbooks, and the third issue is whether there will be online betting apps and if so, who will run them as well.

Sports Betting Supporters

To Rick Skinner, who is the GM of the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, sports betting would fit in perfectly among the gaming already taking place at the facility:

It would just be another great attraction for the bricks-and-mortar facilities in the state. We’re one of four casinos in Kansas, but we have four competitors right across the river.

Legal sports betting would pull people from the Missouri gambling halls and bring in some welcome money to Kansas. One thing Skinner wants people to think about is the fact that there’s a huge risk for the operators of sportsbooks. Take, for example, the latest hit that sportsbooks took when Tiger Woods won with a surprise comeback. Skinner says that’s the “biggest one-day loss in sportsbook golfing.”

At Kansas Speedway, Penn National Gaming operates the Hollywood Casino, and if sports betting is legalized, officials there say they will finally be able to compete with the “black market” gambling that pulls in over $60 billion a year. Jeff Morris, the VP of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Penn National Gaming, said:

If we can’t compete with them, people will continue to go to the unregulated market. We have the compliance pieces in place to provide a safe wagering place for our customers.

One high-profile supporter is Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat. She hopes that the state can come to some kind of agreement soon.

Opponents of Sports Betting

Not all lawmakers want legal sports betting in the state, or if they do, they want the casinos kept away from the activity. Instead, they want the Kansas Lottery to run sports gambling. Republican State Representative Francis Awerkamp is one of those legislators. He wants to keep casinos from having access to the betting habits of gamblers. According to Awerkamp, casinos would be able to use that data to target gamblers, leading to more problem gambling:

Are we trying to encourage people to gamble more? Is that a common good? I don’t think that’s a proper use of personal data.

How Will Kansas Move Forward?

If casinos run sports betting and pay taxes to the state, they could bring in a few million dollars a year in tax revenue. If the state runs sports gambling, there would be more money going into their state.

Right now, the Constitution says that the state of Kansas has to run any form of gambling, which is why their government owns all four casinos there and hires companies to build and operate them. If state-operated sports betting were to pass, then that could look like bets taken through lottery retailers, something run by the state lottery, or via an app on a tablet or phone.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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