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Kansas is another state in which you might not expect there to be much gambling, but that assumption would only be half-correct. There are casinos and other gaming options throughout the state, thanks to a continuous expansion of the industry that began in the 1980s. However, pushing the boundaries when it comes to online casinos in Kansas has met with a more hostile reaction. At present the state legislature seems uninterested with regulating the igaming space, and if anything, there are more negative vibes than positive ones.

Online Gambling Finds Little Support, But Still Exists

Kansas has traditionally been among the most conservative and religious areas in America. But despite their embrace of land-based gaming, they've still held a pretty hard line when it comes to the regulation of Internet gambling sites.

There has been no real talk of licensing online games, and what few efforts that have been made have usually been designed to potentially punish players – though thankfully, these attempts haven't gone anywhere, either. That means that if you were hoping to play on a locally-licensed site, you won’t be able to do so here.

However, there are still plenty of foreign companies who are happy to allow Kansans to play on their websites. Since there are no laws criminalizing playing online, many people in the state play real money slots every day of the week. These sites are extremely reputable and trustworthy, despite the fact that they aren’t licensed locally.

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Live Expansion Begins with Racing

Kansas’ involvement with gambling began in the mid-1980s. In 1986, voters in the state approved the creation of a lottery by a nearly 2-1 margin, and a year later, ticket sales began. The state also became one of the first to introduce multi-state lottery drawings, joining in with Iowa, Missouri, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Oregon and Washington, D.C. to form the Multi-State Lottery Association and launch Lotto America.

Around the same time, voters also approved an amendment to the state constitution that allowed the regulation of horse and dog racing, as well as betting on the races. In 1989, the very first greyhound track opened in the state: Woodlands Racetrack in Kansas City. That would be followed by several more commercial dog and horse tracks.

But as in much of the country, the racing industry saw setbacks in the 1990s, and track owners began pushing for slot machines to be installed to raise revenues and compete with the casinos in neighboring Missouri. While Kansas City voters approved such a change, that vote was seen as unconstitutional, and legislative attempts to add gaming to tracks statewide failed again and again.

Finally, lawmakers passed the Expanded Lottery Act in 2007, though it was still unclear if such a measure was legal under state law. The bill was to allow resorts to be built in three regions of the state, and for existing racing venues to add slots to their offerings.

Resorts Spring Up in Several Regions

By 2008, the constitutionality of the new law had been upheld, and after local votes in various areas, several companies expressed interest in building in the state. However, the recession that year caused most of these bids to be withdrawn, potentially jeopardizing the expansion plan.

The first venue to actually open was the Boot Hill resort in Dodge City, which launched in December of 2009. Kansas Entertainment LLC later opened the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte, while the Kansas Star, located in Mulvane and managed by Boyd Gaming, began operation in late 2011.

Five Native American casinos also operate in Kansas, though only four are owned by tribes located there. The fifth, the 7th Street Casino in Kansas City, is actually operated by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma.

Internet Regulation Unlikely In Next Few Years

The state still has some issues to work out in its gaming market, and those topics are likely to come up for debate over the course of the coming months and years. In fact, at least one controversial addition to the state is being debated at the moment.

A proposed resort in Cherokee County was awarded to a company known as Kansas Crossing, but that decision hasn’t been accepted by everyone. Both the county and a rival bidder, Castle Rock, have filed a lawsuit claiming that the license was awarded arbitrarily, and doesn’t make sense from an objective point of view. Key to their argument is the fact that their development proposal included a $145 million investment – more than twice as big as the one ultimately selected by the state lottery commission.

Originally, the casino was expected to open in July 2016. But the developer has been granted two extensions while the lawsuit is pending, and while the Houston-based company says they still plan to build, the legal controversies have put the entire project into doubt, and construction will likely be delayed until a final ruling is reached.

Internet gaming may not come up again in the state legislature for some time, but given the current climate, that might be a good thing for players. The last time iGaming was seriously discussed here, the State Senate approved an amendment that would ban online gambling, making it a misdemeanor crime just to play such games.

Thankfully, that bill ultimately failed to pass, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think a similar proposal will come up again any time soon. But that’s enough to suggest that actual regulation of online casinos in Kansas won’t occur for a very long time here, if it ever occurs at all.

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