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Kansas Legalizes Sports Betting, Could Launch For Football Season

In latest legal gambling news, and after a contentious battle, Kansas has passed SB 84 and Governor Laura Kelly has committed to signing it into law. The bill will legalize sports betting in the state, and is likely to go into effect before the kickoff of the 2022 NFL season. 

Kansas Legalizes Sports Betting, Could Launch For Football Season

Kansas becomes the 35th state to legalize sports betting

After falling just shy of the needed votes to legalize sports betting in 2021, Kansas was able to overcome a variety of differing opinions to pass SB 84. It was still no sure thing, as there was speculation that Governor Laura Kelly might veto the bill, but with her commitment to sign it into law by the May 16th deadline all obstacles are cleared and Kansas can turn their attention towards the launch. With language in the bill requiring rules to be finalized by January 1, 2023, Kansas will not experience delays similar to ones some other states have gone through after passing sports betting legislation.

Kansas is late to the party in terms of passing the law, but they have the benefit of following the framework of other states who were able to pass legislation and launch sports betting quickly. The Kansas Racing and Game Commission will oversee sports betting in the state, and their government relations manager Todd Allen said that sportsbooks could be taking bets by the time the NFL season starts provided that everything goes well. While delays are possible, given the ticking clock embedded in the bill itself, early 2023 is the latest that sports bettors will be able to place wagers in Kansas.

A sportsbook friendly bill designed to lure a professional sports team to the state

The specifics in the bill take from many of the most sportsbook-friendly policies in any legal sports betting legislation. The law allows for both retail betting establishments as well as online operators. Each of the state’s four casinos will be granted a license, and each is allowed to partner with up to three different online sports betting sites and utilize their mobile app. Casinos can gain access to a fourth license if they partner with a professional sports team located within the state, however at the time only the MLS Sporting Kansas City team. The state hopes to change that, as 80% of gaming tax revenue collected by the state will be set aside for use to incentivize professional sports leagues to expand or move an existing franchise to Kansas.

Casinos will be allowed to partner with up to 50 retail establishments, including professional sports venues, to create betting kiosks. In addition, Native American tribes are allowed to update their gaming compacts to offer sports betting, both via retail as well as online. Operators will pay a 10% tax on sports betting revenues, with the state projecting approximately $10 million in annual tax revenue. All professional and collegiate sports are approved for wagers, as well as “special athletic events” that are deemed acceptable by The Kansas Racing and Game Commission. Dog racing was not included in the bill, in spite of being advocated for by some legislators, it was left out of the final bill after objections from the state senate.

A long time coming, but on the fast track now

All the hurdles preventing legal sports betting in Kansas are gone, and the wait is nearly over for sports bettors in Kansas. While many states, especially states that experienced hard battles to pass sports betting legislation, have experienced significant delays with actually launching legal sports betting, this will not be the case in Kansas. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission will work closely with the state lottery to finalize the licensing and background check rules, and given the fact that the two entities already work closely together and that the lottery owns all four of the state’s casinos, the process is not expected to take long.

Bettors located in Kansas don’t have much longer to wait. The flexibility provided should ensure healthy competition and that the top bookmakers in the USA will launch their online sportsbooks as soon as they are legally allowed. With the competition and a provision in the bill ensuring that promotional expenditures are not counted as taxable revenue, bettors should look forward to a variety of valuable promotions when sportsbooks open for business in Kansas.

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