Kansas Still Eyes Fall Launch for Legal Sports Betting

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Heading into the second half of 2022, it has been another active year in the legal US sports betting industry. More than half the states in the country have legalized sports betting. With the clock ticking, a few more are trying to get something done this year.

Kansas falls into the category of states that have got the job done from a legislative standpoint. Although, the heavy lifting to work through the regulatory process remains. Despite the tight timeframe, there is still hope that legal sports betting can be up and running in time for the new football season.

State Governor Laura Kelly is one of those optimists rooting for legal betting on football this fall. She ceremoniously signed the sports betting legalization bill into law on June 20. The signing of Senate Bill 84 took place at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, and it goes into effect on July 1.

Expectations of the regulatory process and the reality of actually going live rarely see eye to eye. State gaming regulators in Kansas legally have until the start of 2023 to finalize the governing rules and regulations. However, Gov. Kelly believes this timeframe can be adjusted to early fall.

Citing the process in previous states as the precedent, the odds are not in favor of an early Kansas launch. If anything, the best bet would be the latest possible date on the calendar to go live.

Written into the language of SB 84, the four state-owned commercial casinos can offer retail sportsbooks. They can also partner with up to three operators to offer online sports betting. This includes US-based sportsbooks such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

The new law also paves the way for retail expansion through restaurants, fraternal organizations and non-profit veteran groups.

A third group in line for legal sports betting would be in-state tribal casinos. They would have to amend their current gaming compacts with the state to become compliant with SB 84. That process is already underway. Interested gaming tribes have the ability to submit an official request to renegotiate their gaming compact.

Working directly with Gov. Kelly and the director of the Kansas Lottery, approval on the state level should not be an issue. Once an amended compact agreement is reached, the final step is federal approval by the US Department of the Interior.

The effort to bring legal sports betting to the Sunflower State has been a long and arduous task. However, support for a change in the existing laws had a strong bipartisan backing heading into 2022. The state House gave its approval of SB 84 on April 1. Near the end of that same month, the state Senate voted 21-13 to approve the measure as well.

Gov. Kelly officially signed SB 84 into law on May 12. The provisions of this bill call for a 10% tax on sportsbook revenue, which is lower than most states. Most of this money has been earmarked for a sports team relocation fund. Bordering Missouri, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals immediately come to mind.

Legal sports betting in the state will be governed and regulated by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission and the Kansas Lottery.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US sports betting industry expert.