Less than two weeks after clearing a committee vote, an industry-friendly sports betting bill in Kansas has been approved by the full state Senate.
Senate Bill 283 – which would allow both brick and mortar and online / mobile sportsbooks to operate legally throughout the state – was passed on February 17 by the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs.
According to Jeff Longbine (R-17) – who serves as Senate vice president and spearheaded legislative support for regulated sports betting – SB-283’s passage marked the first time he’s seen a gambling expansion bill face zero opponents in the committee phase.
And on February 26 – following six hours of intense debate to hash out logistical details – the full Kansas Senate convened for a voice vote which saw SB-283 secure a 23-15 margin of passage.
Supporters Cite Black Market Betting as Reason to Regulate Sportsbooks
As he told the Topeka Capital-Journal in the wake of the successful vote, Longbine has been a believer of regulated sports betting since well before May of 2018 – when a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court allowed all states to join Nevada in offering legal bet shops.
Since that time, 13 states have legalized and launched regulated sports wagering, including Kansas’ regional neighbors Arkansas, Iowa and New Mexico. Six more states, including direct neighbor Colorado have recently enacted laws on the books which will be implemented later this year.
Longbine has gone on record to state his belief that legal sportsbooks offer the best chance for Kansas to remain competitive, both with regulated states and unregulated offshore operators:
“It certainly has put us in a position where we can establish sports gaming in Kansas and pull wagers from the black market – offshore, unregulated, untaxed market – bringing Kansas under a regulated state market.”
His colleague state senator Marci Francisco (D-2) agrees, as she told KSNT.com that SB-283 represents the most effective way to offer consumer protections to Kansans who are already placing wagers:
“It’s not a new outlet because I think we know that it’s happening, we hope that it’s a new safer outlet.
Why not have it controlled by the state, and then make sure for those people who are participating in that wagering that it’s non-offshore, that they know that their bets will be acknowledged.”
How The Market Would Work Under Sports Betting Bill in Kansas
If the bill is ultimately approved by the Kansas House of Representatives, and signed into law by Governor Laura Kelly, the four state-owned commercial casinos would be authorized to offer onsite sportsbooks.
These casinos would also be granted two online / mobile licenses apiece, bringing the number of potential internet-based sportsbooks to eight.
SB-283 also contains a provision allowing the state’s five tribally operated casinos to apply for sports betting licenses.
And while Kansas isn’t home to any major professional sports franchises, the Kansas Speedway and Children’s Mercy Park – home to NASCAR auto racing and Major League Soccer, respectively – would also be permitted to partner with sportsbook operators.
Those operators would pay taxes of 7.5 percent on revenue derived from wagers played via retail outlets, and 10 percent for online / mobile betting revenue.
Under an amendment added by Senate President Susan Wagle, two percent of all tax revenue collected from legal sports betting would be diverted to a fund for problem gambling treatment. Other government programs which would receive revenue from sports betting taxes include the Horse Fair Racing Benefit Fund and a proposed White Collar Crime Fund to assist investigative efforts by the Kansas Attorney General.