Kansas Sports Betting Bill Passes Senate Vote

  • Senate Bill 283 got passage in the Senate following a 23-15 vote, will now advance to the House
  • The measure calls for sports betting revenue tax rates that are the lowest in the US to date
  • It mainly aims to cut down on black-market, unregulated betting rather than boost state income
  • The House committee will hear a rival proposal calling for a bigger state share of revenue
hands raised indicating hand vote
The Kansas Senate passed a sports betting bill that would see the activity become legal in the state if approved by the House. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

State gets closer to legal sports betting

The Senate in Kansas has given its seal of approval for a bill that would allow retail and online sports betting. Senate Bill 283 just about squeezed through on Wednesday, with the chamber crossover deadline falling on Thursday. The bill was under debate for over four hours.

During this time, Senator Tom Holland tried to amend the bill to allow the state to negotiate with casinos and sportsbook operators. However, the amendment did not get enough support. 

There were no opponents to the bill at the committee stage – a first for a gambling bill, according to Senator Jeff Longbine. The Senate approved the bill through a voice vote, with the tally being 23-15 in favor of passage. The bill will now pass to the House for consideration.

Bill objectives and make-up

While the bill does not seek to make a lot of money for the state, it does aim to help in other ways. Senator Longbine detailed the objectives, namely that the legislation would take wagers from the “black market, off-shore, unregulated, untaxed market and bring it into Kansas under a regulated, safe market.”

some of the lowest sports betting tax rates in the US to date 

The sports betting industry has been very receptive to this Kansas bill. Retail sportsbooks would pay a 7.5% tax on sports betting revenue, with the rate rising to 10% for online sports wagering. These would be some of the lowest sports betting tax rates in the US to date. 

The bill also proposes allowing a total of eight online sportsbooks. There would be two online sportsbook licenses available to each of the casinos in the state, with the Kansas Lottery set to be in charge of issuing such permits. A certain amount of online lottery sales would also be allowable.

Gambling addiction contributions

Senate President Susan Wangle successfully had her proposed amendment implemented into the bill. The revision would see 2% of all sportsbook revenue in the state going towards addiction counseling services.

A similar measure is already in place for casino revenue in Kansas. Wangle said there are about 54,000 Kansas residents struggling with gambling issues, with 75% of these also suffering from other types of addiction. 

Upcoming rival proposal

Sports betting legalization has been in the works for some time in Kansas. A number of hearings have taken place over the last couple of years, with the most recent one held in January.

alternative bill which calls for the state to get a bigger piece of sports betting revenue

Following Wednesday’s vote, a rival proposal will be heard by the House committee in March. Republican John Barker will present an alternative bill which calls for the state to get a bigger piece of sports betting revenue. It would also allow the hundreds of retail stores that already sell lottery tickets to also be able to accept simple sports bets. 

The Senate also took a vote on another bill that proposed a tax drop for a horse and dog racing park in Kansas City. The measure was defeated 18-17.

The sports scenario in Kansas

There are no major issues with betting on local teams in Kansas as there is no MLB, NHL, NFL, or NBA team in the state. The bill would, however, allow wagers on events involving the existing MLS team and NASCAR facility.

The Children’s Mercy Park and the Kansas Speedway would need to enter a deal with one of the state’s four casinos. No betting would be permissible on-site at these facilities. However, both venues are just minutes away from the Hollywood Casino. 

Betting revenue estimates

Lawmakers have been conservative with their estimates for tax revenue from sports betting. The Kansas Lottery expects a yearly handle of between $360m and $600m. Once the sector matures after about five years, this could rise to $900m.

If there was a $500m handle and a hold of 5%, there would be $2.25m worth of taxes going to the state. The estimates are based on the results seen in Iowa during 2019.

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