Kansas legalizes sports betting; Launch date uncertain | Other sports

TOPEKA, Kan. – Legal sports betting is coming to Kansas, but state officials and others aren’t sure how quickly sports fans can get their bets on, although one operator is hoping it will be by the start of the NFL season.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill into law Thursday that the Republican-controlled legislature passed with bipartisan support. Her lawsuit came four years after the US Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting in most states in 2018.

The new law dedicates most of the state’s share of new gambling revenue — perhaps $5 million a year — to efforts to lure the Kansas City Chiefs from Missouri to Kansas. While many lawmakers see this as unlikely, they have nonetheless been willing to put the funds aside in the short term.

The new law will allow people in the state to use mobile or computer apps to wager on sporting events and place wagers at any of the four state casinos or up to 50 other locations chosen by each casino.

Penn National Gaming, which operates the state-owned Hollywood Casino at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, plans to build a retail sportsbook at the casino in the Kansas City area. The Pennsylvania-based company also intends to introduce mobile sports betting to people in Kansas. Spokesman Jeff Morris said he hopes the people of Kansas can start betting legally by the National Football League season.

But Todd Allen, government relations manager for the Racing and Gaming Commission, said he couldn’t guarantee whether people in Kansas would be able to place traditional sports bets by the 2022 NFL season.

The Kansas Lottery, which owns the rights to casino gambling, and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, which regulates it, need to address questions about how they can and will verify that bettors are at least 21 years old and physically in Kansas can verify players’ credit card information, said lottery spokesman Cory Thone.

Kansas allows wagering on fantasy sports leagues, operates a state lottery, and allows private companies to operate four casinos under contracts with the lottery. Efforts to approve sports betting have stalled in the past because of control of state casinos and whether to allow other new forms of gambling.

Avid sports fans had eagerly awaited Kelly’s signing of the bill.

Joseph Bryden, a 25-year-old law student at the University of Kansas, said he listens to an overseas podcast where presenters often discuss sports betting.

“And it’s like sitting here in Kansas and listening to them have all this fun,” Bryden said.

Kansas clarified in 2015 that it is legal to place wagers in fantasy sports competitions, games that allow players to compile a roster of athletes in a sport, using individual performance statistics to determine the winner. Bryden already uses a mobile sports betting app operated by a fantasy sports company but said he looks forward to betting on the outcome of games.

Leave a Comment