Kansas lawmakers on Tuesday had a chance to be the second in a week to send a bill legalizing sports betting to their governor, but a substitute for SB 84 was defeated in the House’s Committee of the Whole, 71-48, and didn’t get to the full House floor. The original version of SB 84 passed out of the Senate in early March.
Wyoming lawmakers on Tuesday sent a mobile-only sports betting bill to their governor, making them the first this in 2021 to do so.
Both versions of the Kansas proposal would allow for statewide mobile sports wagering with digital platforms tethered to brick-and-mortar casinos and other venues, and set the Kansas Lottery as the regulator. The original Senate bill prohibited the Kansas Lottery from having its own online/mobile platform, while the substitute would allow the lottery to have its own platform.
Because the bill didn’t get to a final vote Tuesday, it could be sent back to committee or called back to the House floor for another vote. There are four sports betting bills currently in the state legislature, and it’s unclear which one could ultimately be the vehicle to legalize.
The bill that the Senate sent to the House would have had the lowest tax rate in the nation — 5.5% on gross gaming revenue for retail sports wagering and 8% for digital. The bill called for an additional 2% tax on both retail and digital wagering to be directed to responsible gambling initiatives. The bill also would have allowed each brick-and-mortar location, called a “sports wagering facility manager,” to have three mobile skins or platforms.
But the House Committee of the Whole stripped the bill and essentially replaced it with the framework outlined in HB 2199, and then failed to pass it.
Higher tax rate added
While the new SB 84 would still create the open, competitive marketplace that operators generally prefer, the substitute ratchets up the tax rate to 14% on retail ggr and 20% on digital. It also includes an official league data mandate, and calls for two mobile skins, or platforms, per retail location, down from three in the original Senate bill. The latest version also would allow certain professional venues, including Kansas Speedway and horse racetracks, to offer sports betting, and would also allow as many as 1,200 lottery retailers (think convenience stores, bars) to offer sports betting via lottery kiosks.
The substitute bill also appears to have stripped the 2% tax on gross gaming revenue earmarked for problem gambling programs, though 2% of lottery revenue in Kansas is already mandated to pay for such programs.
The substitute in many ways mirrors HB 2199, which has been in Federal and State Affairs since February. The committee held a two-day hearing on the bill in late February but failed to move it forward.
It is curious why the House stripped and replaced it with language from one of its own and then did not pass it.
Kansas lawmakers have rejected SB 84, a bill to legalize sports-betting. The House voted 77-40 against the measure. The bill did not pass to final action, so it could come back up in the House or go to committee. @GamblingComp https://t.co/P9PXvb3HmS
— Chris Sieroty (@sierotyfeatures) March 31, 2021
More conversation, less action
Kansas lawmakers have been among a handful — including those from Massachusetts, Missouri, and Ohio — who have debated sports betting for multiple sessions with no resolution. Like those other states, Kansas does not have any clear impediments to legalization. There are no tribes to compact with, and while the greyhound lobby has been vocal, lawmakers have agreed to take dogs out of the equation, removing that obstacle.
Both SB 84 and HB 2199 also allow for an iLottery, which Gov. Laura Kelly supports, meaning that there’s a good chance that a sports wagering bill that includes an iLottery component will get her signature. Lawmakers still have some time to try to craft agreeable legislation — the legislature is in session until May 15.
Three months into 2021, and no U.S. jurisdictions have legalized sports betting. By this time last year, Washington State had legalized tribal-only retail wagering and Virginia was well on its way to legalization.