The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) on Friday followed the lead of its counterparts at the state lottery, approving a set of temporary rules for legal sports betting. The approvals certainly move the co-regulators closer to a go-live date for wagering, but despite rumors, neither has pinpointed a day.
Immediately after Friday’s meeting, media reports suggested the wagering could go live by the start of the NFL season on Sept. 8. But regulators and operators still have plenty to do before the first bet could be taken. It’s likely wagering will go live ahead of the mandated deadline of Jan. 1, 2023, but being able to make a bet within three-and-a-half weeks could be a stretch.
“The Kansas lottery and the KRGC are working hard to meet the goal of opening for the start of the NFL season,” a KRGC spokesman told Sports Handle via e-mail. “A launch date has not been set yet, but both agencies would like to be open for sports wagers soon.”
During Friday’s meeting, Commissioner Chair David Moses said, “There is nothing we are doing to hold up sports wagering in Kansas,” which may well have been the comment that touched off the idea that the first bets could be taken by early September.
Pre-launch bonuses already out there
Kansas has a unique gaming setup in that both the lottery and KRGC have a hand in regulations. The Lottery Commission last Wednesday approved 15 of its rules and said that it is in the process of hammering out contracts with casinos for sports betting. Under law, the state technically “owns” all gaming in Kansas, including the machines, cards, balls, or die used in games, while the casino operators manage gambling.
The setup will be the same for sports betting, and the lottery must not only contract with each casino, but will have to approve the partnerships between the casinos and their wagering partners. Each of the state’s four brick-and-mortar casinos is entitled to three platforms, or skins.
The rules passed by both commissions last week are temporary in nature and will likely be revised before becoming permanent. Both sets of rules are under review at the attorney general’s office, and there is no indication how long that process will take. The KRGC sent its temporary rules to the AG today.
With launch to take place by the end of the year, casinos have begun building out their retail sportsbooks and some mobile operators have begun a push to sign up customers. Barstool Sportsbook (Hollywood Casino at Kansas Raceway), Caesars Sportsbook (Kansas Crossing), DraftKings (Boot Hill Casino), and FanDuel (Kansas Star) are all poised to have retail and digital locations, while Bally’s, BetMGM, FOX Bet, and PointsBet have plans for digital platforms.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel have already begun offering $100 in free bets in KS.
A look at the timeline
The KRGC, which officially was supposed to open the application process Monday, has been accepting applications and working with operators for several weeks. In most states, it takes about 90 days to approve an application, so the KRGC is ahead of the curve.
Besides Jan. 1 as the latest date to go live, the only other mandated deadline remaining is Sept. 1, which is when the lottery is supposed to publish the process for license requests.
The next Kansas Lottery meeting is set for Sept. 7, one day before the NFL kicks off with Thursday Night Football, and the next KRGC meeting is set for Sept. 9.