Update from Kansas Lottery

Kansas' plans to launch sports betting in time for NFL season uncertain despite ongoing progress

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signing sports betting into law.
Reading time 3:23 min

A launch date for Kansas’ upcoming sports betting market remains uncertain. While the ideal target date for the market opening has long been the NFL season start -to kick off September 8-, officials for the Kansas Lottery said on Friday that while that remains a possibility, it isn’t a sure bet.

“It is moving. It’s moving forward, but the biggest thing for us and everyone is we want the product to be functional, secure and safe to use,” Kansas Lottery Public Information Officer Cory Thone said, according to KWCH, adding that the main goal is getting things right. “We obviously don’t want it to launch and then go down.”

The new report comes as Kansas nears some of the first deadlines set out in the law legalizing sports betting in the Sunflower State. By August 1, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) needs to have a process in place to complete background investigation on sportsbook platforms. These investigations would then start by the middle of the month.

At the same time, the Gaming Commission is also drafting regulations to oversee the market, with the regulator’s board expected to take them up next month. And then, on September 1, the Kansas Lottery is set to create the process to approve sportsbook platforms.

The Kansas Legislature passed sports betting in April

In anticipation of the launch, the four state-owned casinos have already announced partnerships with sportsbook platforms, which would finally open the door to both retail and mobile sports betting in Kansas. The casinos can partner with up to three online operators each.

“We trust them to make their decisions for their business, and I know that we have to approve it, but we trust them and trust what they’re doing, and that’s the reason that they’re there,” Thone added. “Seeing that they’re making those strides is fine because it makes it known they’re ready. Everyone is getting ready.”

Kansas’ upcoming market has attracted plenty of attention given it has become one of the latest states to authorize sports gaming, and is likely the only one to launch this fall. In addition, it may also benefit from neighbor Missouri’s failure at legalizing sports betting this year.

Among venues set to launch sports betting is Boot Hill Casino and Resort in Dodge City, which has already unveiled mobile betting partnerships with DraftKings and Bally Bet. The casino will also have a DraftKings retail sportsbook in Dodge City, and is looking to partner with a third platform. It also intends to open temporary kiosks this fall, with a full-scale sportsbook planned for later this year.

Hollywood Casino at the Kansas Speedway

Last week, Hollywood Casino at the Kansas Speedway announced plans to have a temporary sportsbook open in time for the NASCAR race on September 9. This plan joins other expected launches, including that of BetMGM, which aims to be ready to go live when sports betting opens, as it has access to the state through Boyd Gaming, operator of the Kansas Star Casino. FanDuel is also likely to join the state, as it also has an access partnership with Boyd.

The Kansas sports betting law took effect on July 1 and gives the state until the start of next year to fully open sports betting. The law calls for a 10% tax on each bet, with estimates of about $41 million in revenue for the state over the next five years. A total of 80% is earmarked for a Kansas Department of Commerce fund to provide incentives for pro sports teams to come to the state.

Lawmakers finally managed to pass sports gaming in the state after years of failed attempts through legislation that allows both mobile and retail betting at casinos. Gaming facilities could enter agreements with pro sports franchises to place kiosks at a team’s venue as part of a total of 50 total businesses and entities they are allowed to partner with.

Recognized Native American tribes are also able to submit a request to the Kansas Gov. and Kansas Lottery director to operate a sportsbook “under the substantially same terms and conditions” applied to the state’s four casinos. The state lottery and the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission will share oversight of the new market.

One of the sports betting law’s most discussed features is the call for tax revenue to be used to provide incentives for pro sports teams, a move that led to speculation the state could be seeking to lure the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs from Missouri. However, Gov. Laura Kelly dismissed that idea last month.

“Quite honestly, the amount of money that this bill would generate and put into that fund would not come close to being what you would need to be able to attract a major league team,” she admitted. However, Kansas’ legislation allows pro sports teams to partner with operators to open sportsbooks at stadiums, which could prove to be a game-changer.

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