The Kansas Lottery is set to move quickly once sports wagering launches in the Sunflower State. Kansas, which passed a sports betting bill directing most tax revenue to a fund that aims to lure pro sports teams to come to the state, is now waiting for final approval from Gov. Laura Kelly - and the state’s lottery is ready to act once that happens.
“It’s an exciting time. It’s something the people of the state of Kansas have wanted for a really long time,” Kansas Lottery Executive Director Stephen Durrell said Thursday in an interview with KSHB 41. “I think that just making sure that we implement it to the best of our ability, makes it a little bit stressful. But for the most part, it’s more exciting than stressful right now.”
The Kansas Lottery, which owns and operates non-tribal casinos in the state, will also be in charge of the upcoming sports gaming industry once the legislation is signed into law. And well will that occur? That’s the big question, although the lottery hopes to be ready for whenever that happens.
“We’re trying to figure out, in a perfect world, how would this work, and how can we help our casino partners get this stuff up and running as fast as we can?” Durrell further told the cited source. “Everybody’s anxious to get it done. We just make sure that it’s done safely and fairly, and make sure that when it gets up and operating it is the most efficient and fun for the players.”
The Kansas Legislature passed sports betting last month
To that end, the lottery’s staff is already working with its casino partners to get the market up and operating “as quickly as we can,” regardless of what timeframe it becomes legal. It is not an easy task, given the passed legislation allows for both retail and mobile gaming not only in casinos but also at professional sports venues that reach a marketing agreement with a casino.
Many stakeholders will be looking to get a piece of the sports pie: bars and restaurants may also partner with casinos to offer gaming. Tribal casinos, too, can join the market - but only once their compacts with the state are amended, which Durrell described as “a longer process.” They may operate sportsbooks under the “same terms and conditions” applied to the state's four casinos, the sports bill says.
The state’s lottery will be sharing oversight of the new market with the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission. The regulator is set to lend the Kansas Lottery a hand in looking after the best interest of players, which are currently already placing wagers - but in an illegal way in which no appropriate protections and controls are in place.
The Kansas City Chiefs, a potential goal of the new legislation
“It’s brought more into the light,” Durrell told KSHB 41 about sports betting legalization. “People have the ability to know that if they are using the applications that are through the state, through the casinos that they are going to be fair, they’re going to be regulated and they’ll have the ability to receive their winnings.”
The state’s new sports betting legislation was passed by the Republican-controlled Senate on a 21-13 vote in late April. The measure puts a 10% tax on each bet, with nearly all revenue going to efforts to bring pro sports teams to the state - including the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, which are based on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area.
The legislation allows both mobile -each casino could operate up to three online platforms- and retail betting at casinos, or up to 50 other locations chosen by each casino. The bill could potentially lead to about $5 million a year in revenue for the state, according to estimates.