To steal a cliche, Kansas sports betting regulators aren’t sitting on their hands. The new law that makes wagering legal only becomes effective July 1, but the Kansas Lottery and Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) are both already making progress on key items on their respective punch lists.
The two Kansas agencies work jointly to handle gaming regulation in a state where the lottery technically “owns” gaming and operators contract for the right to offer it.
At a meeting last week, lottery officials said they are working with casinos on the contracts needed to ensure they’ll be able to offer wagering. And following its meeting Friday, a KRGC spokesman told Sports Handle that it has plans to send a first draft of regulations this month to the four casino operators — Boot Hill Casino, Boyd Gaming/Kansas Star, JNB/Kansas Crossing, and Penn National Gaming/Hollywood Casino. Following that, the KRGC staff plans to have a set of draft rules available for the commission’s July 22 meeting.
“The hope is that if things go well with input from the [operators], we’re still hoping to have the regulations before the July 22 commission meeting,” said Todd Allen, head of government relations for the KRGC. “And [the commission] could approve those.”
Background checks in process, too
The KRGC has also started the process for background checks, by contacting operators to gather initial information. According to a timeline laid out by the new law, the window for background checks doesn’t officially have to open until Aug. 1, and Allen said the agency is ahead of schedule on that front.
The process is unique in Kansas for developing regulations and qualifying the four applicants — each of which can apply for up to three skins, or digital platforms. By state law, the lottery owns all gaming in the state, meaning that through its lottery agency the state owns everything from the slot machines to the playing cards, while the operators can own the land and buildings and employ people to run their casinos. It’s a setup all sides are familiar with, given that Kansas has a mature casino infrastructure.
"Everybody is staying up very long night's trying to get this thing done as quickly as we can."
— Alex Gold (@AlexGold) June 14, 2022
The lottery’s first order of business in terms of sports betting is to secure contracts with the operators. Kansas Lottery Director Stephen Durrell said during a meeting last week that “contracts are out for review” with the operators.
According to the new law, regulators must launch operators by Jan. 1, 2023, but both the lottery and KRGC have previously said they hope to beat that date. Under the law, each of the four casinos is entitled to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook and has up to three skins each, for a total of 12 potential digital platforms.
Expect all major operators in Kansas
To date, eight of those skins are spoken for and eight major operators have plans to be in Kansas: Bally’s (Boot Hill Casino), Barstool Sportsbook (Hollywood Casino/Penn National Gaming), BetMGM (Boyd Gaming/Kansas Star), Caesars (JNB/Kansas Crossing), DraftKings (Boot Hill Casino), FanDuel (Boyd Gaming/Kansas Star), FOX Bet (Hollywood Casino/Penn National Gaming), and PointsBet (JNB/Kansas Crossing). So far, all of the casinos have at least two skins spoken for, leaving four still available.
The law also provides the opportunity for the MLS Sporting KC and Kansas Speedway to have platforms, should they partner with a casino through a marketing agreement. Though neither has announced a partnership, the Hollywood Casino in Kansas is located at the Speedway.
Under the law, it appears that both locations could offer in-person wagering via kiosks. Here’s another look at the short-term timeline laid out in the law:
July 1: New Kansas wagering law takes effect.
July 1 plus 30 days: The lottery must publish in the Kansas Register “how it will receive, consider, and approve proposed lottery gaming facility management contracts.”
Aug. 1: KRGC must publish its process for background checks (applications).
Aug. 15: KRGC must open the background check process.
Sept. 1: Lottery must publish the process for submission of license requests.