Kansas Sports Betting Bill Progresses With Amendment in the Cards

  • SB 84's proponents and opponents gave testimonies, prompting the decision for amendment
  • DraftKings, FanDuel, Penn National, and Boyd Gaming praised the bill for low tax rates
  • Penn National's Jeff Morris warned against the addition of an official league data mandate
  • Opposition included a Kansas addiction society which asked for problem gambling protection
Kansas state flag blowing in the wind
Kansas lawmakers are set to amend a new state sports betting bill after hearing two days of testimony from its supporters and opponents. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Both sides of the debate

A Kansas senate committee has decided to amend a proposed sports betting bill following two days of testimonies from its proponents and opponents. The bill in question, Senate Bill 84, would create a legal retail and mobile sports betting market in the Sunflower State.

The committee gave the floor to the legislation’s opponents on Thursday

Discussions began on Wednesday with the bill’s supporters. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony from multiple sports betting operators throughout the morning, such as DraftKings and FanDuel. The committee gave the floor to the legislation’s opponents on Thursday, along with parties considered neutral. This included the Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals.

The committee concluded that the bill would require amendment before its next hearing. Chairman Larry Alley said the body will “work the bill” before February 24, after which the committee will carry out a vote. 

Proponents have their say

On Wednesday, the committee called supporters of SB 84 to the floor to give their take on the legislation. Only Jeff Morris, director of government affairs for Penn National, testified live during the short session. Others decided to provide written contributions, such as lobbyist Derek Hein, who submitted testimony on behalf of DraftKings and FanDuel.

The operators praised the legislation for its low tax rate and inclusion of mobile sports betting. In his written testimony, Ryan Soultz, vice president of governmental affairs for Boyd Gaming, said the 7.5% revenue share would allow Kansas to “compete with casinos in surrounding states and illegal markets that pay no taxes.” He also described mobile betting as “an option that bettors demand.”

Along with its 7.5% revenue tax for retail sportsbooks, SB 84 sets a 10% rate for online operators. Under the legislation, online sportsbook operators must partner professional sports franchises or land-based casinos in order to operate in Kansas. Each casino can link up with up to three mobile sportsbook operators. The bill names the Kansas Lottery Corporation as the market’s regulator.

Despite supporting the bill in its current form, Penn National’s Jeff Morris warned against the addition of an official league data mandate. He said deals for official data “can be reached privately” and do not require third-party intervention.

Unlike SB 84, another Kansas sports betting bill currently under consideration does include a mandate for official league data. House Bill 2199 will receive a hearing on a date yet to be determined.

Opponents get the last word

On Thursday, it was the turn of SB 84’s opponents to provide their testimonies. Ultimately, only the Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals opposed the bill outright.

In her written testimony, group president Deb Stidham outlined the dangers of problem gambling. She described a “blitz of advertising” which would accompany legal sports betting. She suggested a number of ways to mitigate this detrimental impact.

Stidham urged legislators to dedicate 2% of sports betting revenue towards addiction treatment. She also asked lawmakers to enforce greater problem gambling protection and suggested the introduction of a consistent minimum gambling age.

Stidham urged legislators to dedicate 2% of sports betting revenue towards addiction treatment

In contrast, other parties were more concerned with their exclusion from the bill, which currently only permits retail sports betting at casinos. Representatives for Kansas’ horse racetracks, convenience stores, and gas stations argued that the bill should permit sports betting at their respective venues. The Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation also asked to renegotiate its state compact to include sports betting.

Finally, neutral parties gave their suggestions. This included the League of Kansas Municipalities, which urged the committee to allow local governments to receive some sports betting revenue. Meanwhile, the Humane Society of the United States and Stray Dog Police asked for a ban on greyhound betting.

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