Kansas lawmakers jumped into the sports wagering fray yet again last week, this time with a bill that would allow state-wide mobile with no in-person registration requirement, no carve-out on collegiate events and operator-friendly tax rates. SB 283 was filed last week, and is set for a hearing before the Federal and State Affairs Committee at 10:30 a.m. CST on Wednesday. The bill was filed by the committee.
Kansas lawmakers last year said they felt some pressure to act on the matter as border states were also talking about legalizing, but the pressure has been ratcheted up in the intervening months, particularly to the west. Colorado voters legalized sports betting on the November 2019 ballot and the new law will allow for live, legal sports betting by May 1 among the growing list of operators lining up. In addition, officials in both Missouri and Nebraska have filed sports betting legislation, though it doesn’t appear that legislation in either state is moving forward much, despite reports of “momentum.”
The Kansas bill would allow for two “skins” or online brands per operator, and would legalize sports betting for “gaming facility managers” and potentially sports facilities, which are defined as “auto race track facilities or major multi-sport athletic complex(es),” which could include Kansas Speedway and Children’s Mercy Park, where Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC plays.
Tribes could open compacts to add sports betting
Though mobile sports betting would have to be tethered to a retail site, there could be up to eight mobile platforms and five retail locations, as there are currently four commercial casinos in Kansas, plus Children’s Mercy Park, and five tribal casinos.
According to the bill, tribal casinos interested in sports betting could request the opportunity to renegotiate their pacts with the state. In the text of the bill, a “bet” is not defined as “tribal gaming” and “tribal gaming” is excluded under the definition of “lottery.” Daily fantasy sports are also excluded under these two definitions.
It appears that the Kansas Lottery would oversee sports betting, but the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission would regulate advertising and maintain an exclusion list. The text of the bill calls for the lottery to “be the licensee or owner of all software programs used in conducting sports wagering and the lottery gaming facility manager, on behalf of the state, shall purchase or lease for the Kansas lottery in the name of the Kansas lottery any equipment or other property deemed necessary for the lottery gaming facility manager for managing sports wagering at the lottery gaming facility.”
This bill is a departure from what Kansas lawmakers floated last year — Lottery-run sports betting at a 50 percent tax rate with an “official league data” mandate and limited mobile options. That bill, and several others, including two that would have legalized sports betting at racetracks and via the lottery, didn’t get much traction.
The latest version shows that Kansas lawmakers have listened to feedback from stakeholders. The tax rates — 10 percent on mobile betting gross revenue and 7.5 percent on retail — are in the ballpark of what operators have maintained are most conducive to a productive market, and there is no data mandate, which is also appealing to some potential operators.
So far, three states have legalized sports betting with the data requirement — Tennessee, Illinois and Michigan. None of those states has live sports betting yet.