Kansas Lawmakers Expect to Pass Sports Betting Bill as Amendments Made

  • Senators want SB 84 amended before it goes to Kansas Governor Laura Kelly
  • Rep. Clayton said the bill requires a “couple of tweaks” to please House and Senate
  • Attempts to legalize sports wagering in Kansas have stalled many times in the past
  • A new component of SB 84 involves revenue to attract pro teams to the state
  • Supporters of the bill eying the NFL’s Chiefs, who are based on the Missouri side of KC
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Lawmakers are confident minor tweaks to Kansas’ sports betting bill scheduled for Thursday in the Kansas State House will result in the bill passing. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update April 29, 2022: Kansas legislators gave final approval to SB 84 on Friday. The Senate voted 21-13 to approve the sports betting bill, which will now go to Governor Laura Kelly for her signature. Lawmakers expect the governor to approve the legislation.

Two minor amendments

Kansas lawmakers have said they expect sports betting bill SB 84 to pass after the Senate tasked a conference committee to make two minor amendments.

Representative Stephanie Sawyer Clayton (D) took to Twitter to soothe fears SB 84 was “dead in the water” and to announce that the conference committee meets 10:30am Thursday:

Sports bettor anxiety followed the Kansas Senate nixing a conference report on the bill Wednesday. According to The Register Citizen, however, the senators want technical amendments before the bill goes to Governor Laura Kelly’s desk.

couple of tweaks will be made to please both the house and the senate”

The senators reportedly moved fast Wednesday to appoint three members to lead the second conference committee that Clayton referenced. According to Clayton, only a “couple of tweaks will be made to please both the house and the senate.”

Another lobbyist also working on the issue confirmed the minor adjustments ahead of Thursday’s meeting. “So this is not over. My understanding is that everything is fine,” PlayKansas cites Clayton as saying.

Adjustments and incentives

Both the Senate and House each asked for one adjustment to SB 84. The Senate wants a section removed that could prompt the state to divide the costs of repaying a privilege fee with interest, if it’s found the historical horse racing facility at Wichita Greyhound Park breaches casino contracts.

The House, meanwhile, simply wants to amend the overseer of the Attracting Professional Sports in Kansas Fund to the Department of Commerce, instead of the State Finance Council.

Despite Clayton’s optimism that the amendments are a momentary delay in getting SB 84 across the line, attempts to legalize sports wagering in Kansas have stalled many times in the past, primarily over state-owned casinos’ control.

If enacted, SB 84 will allow each of Kansas’ four casinos to gain over three skins apiece. In June 2021, Boot Hill Casino awarded one of its mobile sports betting skins to Bally Bet in anticipation of the bill passing. SB 84 also gives professional sports teams in the state the right to partner with sportsbook operators. A new component of bill, however, involves revenue to attract professional teams to the state.

incentives for professional sports teams to relocate to Kansas

Under the bill, the state would impose a 10% tax on each bet. The new measure states that 80% of the revenues — perhaps $5m a year according to the Citizen on Thursday — would go into a fund to provide incentives for professional sports teams to relocate to Kansas.

Thursday’s business first

The franchises that SB 84’s incentives might tempt to move to Kansas include MLB’s Kansas City Royals and NBA or NHL teams. The most coveted franchise, however, is the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, who are currently based on the Missouri side of Kansas City’s metropolitan area.

The idea of incentivizing major league franchises to move to Kansas arose after Chiefs President Mark Donovan stated at recent NFL owners’ meeting that his team had mulled options for a new stadium in Kansas.

Instead of dreaming about the Chiefs, pragmatic Kansas bettors will wait on the outcome of Thursday’s second conference committee. Leading it is Senator Robert Olson, who will be joined by Senators Mike Petersen, and Oletha Faust-Goudeau.