At the beginning of 2022, it was unclear if Kansas would legalize sports betting. After a couple months, there were significant questions about the likelihood of a bill passing through the state legislature.
While Gov. Laura Kelly was expected to sign a bill should the House and Senate agree on one, Kansans were on the edges of their seats through April. Eventually, late one April night, the House and Senate agreed on a bill to legalize sports betting.
Unlike other states across the country (looking at you, Maryland), Kansas regulators worked rapidly to usher sportsbooks to launch. It only took about four months from legalization to launch in Kansas, nearly a record in the U.S.
Here’s a look back at a busy yet productive year for Kansas sports wagering.
January: Efforts to legalize betting revived
In January, Kansas lawmakers revitalized efforts to legalize sports betting in 2022. After an informational hearing on sports betting, Sen. Robert Olson shared a memorable quote.
“We have to try to figure out how to get this over the finish line,” he said after staff presentations about sports wagering. “I’d like to see if we can come up with a compromise … fix this thing and maybe do a little magic.”
March: Bills debated
Sports betting bills were debated by the Kansas legislature in March, with tax rates a key discussion point.
A lobbyist speaking on behalf of sports betting operators felt a proposed mobile tax rate of 20% was too high. There were also discussions about how much tax revenue should be set aside for responsible gambling initiatives.
April: Bill sent to governor
In early April, the House approved a sports wagering bill after lengthy debate that went well into the night, while the Senate delayed a decision on the bill.
“I may actually drop dead from heart failure, but one more step has been achieved,” Rep. Stephanie Clayton tweeted after the late-night House passage.
At the end of April, the House and Senate came to an agreement on a bill to legalize sports betting in Kansas. The Senate debate went past midnight before approval.
BREAKING: The KS #Sportswagering bill has PASSED in final action vote. 1:45 am got it done. The bill now goes to the Governor. #ksleg pic.twitter.com/ShSU9qNZHM
— Alex Gold (@AlexGold) April 29, 2022
The bill allocated 80% of wagering tax revenue to a fund aimed at attracting professional sports teams to Kansas. It also included a note that 2% of tax revenue from sports betting would go to problem and responsible gambling funds.
Additionally, all digital sports betting platforms must be tethered to existing casinos, and the bill’s tax rate is 10%. The bill awarded up to three skins to each of the state’s casinos and allowed up to 50 qualified private entities to contract with license holders to offer wagering via kiosks.
Language in the bill, which Gov. Kelly signed, required sports betting to go live in Kansas prior to Jan. 1, 2023.
August: Launch date set
In August, the Kansas Lottery announced that sports betting would go live on Sept. 1, 2022. The regulator worked quickly to turn the passage of legislation into a launch of sportsbooks across the state.
“Kansas will launch sports betting on September 1st” pic.twitter.com/cC0jOaGQEB
— Braiden Turner (@bturner23) August 18, 2022
Neighboring state Missouri didn’t come to an agreement on a sports betting bill during its legislative session.
September: Launch day arrives
Legal sports betting launched in Kansas at the beginning of September, one of the fastest legalization-to launch-timelines for any state in the U.S. Iowa was the only state that moved faster.
Six sportsbooks (Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet) launched on Sept. 1 in Kansas.
December: Checking financial figures
Early financial returns in Kansas are promising, as it only took operators in the state three months to reach $500 million in handle.
Sports betting brought in over $1 million for the state from September-November. With promotional spend of the state’s six mobile sportsbooks declining, it’s expected that the state will start to see increased tax revenue in coming months and years.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ involvement in the NFL playoffs figures to play a role in the volume of sports wagers placed in the next few months. The Chiefs are expected to enter the postseason as one of the top contenders for the Super Bowl.