Kansas Discussing Legal Sports Betting Behind Closed Doors

Kansas is the latest state to consider legalizing sports betting and is holding private discussions on the issue. According to reports, an agreement on the issue could come by January 2019.

The person in charge of the committee in the legislature in Kansas for the issue of sports betting is optimistic that an agreement could even be made in advance of the first legislative session of 2019.

Republican senator Bud Estes is the leader for the House-Senate committee that is investigating the potential legalization of sports betting. It is currently looking at collaborating with a number of key industry stakeholders on the issue.

The stakeholders include industry lobbyists, casino managers, lottery ticket sellers, state regulators, consultants and representatives from the major sports leagues.  This wide consultation will help the state draft a bill that covers all of their bases as best as possible.

It would provide a solid framework for the legalization of sports betting. Estes is very confident that together they can develop a workable solution.

The next step

The next meeting of the National Council of Legislators from gaming states takes place in early January. Estes is hoping that a number of the legislators from the committee will attend this meeting so he can get some insights into how other states are managing legalization.

There are concerns in some circles that this bill has been drafted privately and that could cause some issues. The lack of transparency could be a problem, especially when dealing with a market that is full of illegal gamblers.

Potential operators

There are no indications as to what sportsbook operators are thinking with regards to legalizing sports betting in Kansas. Some people believe licenses should be offered solely to existing facilities in the state.

These include the Boot Hill Casino, Hollywood Casino, Kansas Star Casino and the Kansas Crossing Casino. Another idea is to follow the example of other states and to put the responsibility on the Kansas Lottery retailers to accept sports wagers.

A number of race tracks in the states are currently not in use, and could be repurposed for sports betting. There are clearly many different options, which is why opinions from many different stakeholders are needed.

A further issue they also need to consider is that of legalizing mobile or online sports betting. This has been a successful move in, for example, New Jersey since sports betting became legal. The state is now seeing more sports betting revenues from mobile betting apps than from wagers made at physical locations.

However, many other states that now have legal sports betting do not want mobile gambling as they believe it will lead to higher levels of problem gambling. The taxation issue also needs to be looked at; this is an area that differs significantly from state to state

Current views on the issue

There are a lot of mixed feelings on the issue of legalizing sports betting in Kansas. Of course, if larger resort type of facilities comes to the region, it makes sense to offer sports betting. Such projects would bring large levels of investment to the region and it makes sense to maximize the casinos’ offerings so they can attract more visitors.

Legalization could also help to stamp out the illegal black market for sports betting, which is currently very lucrative. Large sums of money are being lost when they could be going into state coffers and put to good use.

Ohio state senator Bill Coley has been providing Kansas with some advice on the issue. Ohio is currently looking to push through its own sports betting bill in 2019.

Coley leads the oversight committee on the issue in Ohio. He is advising Kansas on the myriad of issues that comes along with legal sports betting, such as match-fixing, problem gambling and money laundering.

Coley warns that the sports leagues could suffer in the long term from widespread legalization. He says that these events will become more about entertainment than athletic contests.

What happens next?

Estes has a very optimistic timeline of having a sports betting bill ready to go by the start of the next legislative session in January 2019. With the holidays fast approaching and a lot of key stakeholders to talk to, this seems to be a lofty goal.

The last thing Kansas wants to be doing is rushing into a bill that does not suit its needs when put into action.