Good news for Kansas sports fans and bettors. The state is set to launch sports wagering beginning September 1, state officials announced Thursday. The four state-owned casinos in the Sunflower State will have a “soft launch” at noon that day, with an official launch set for September 8, Kansas Lottery executive director Stephen Durrell said in a video announcement.
However, in the video Durrell conceded that several regulatory and administrative hurdles remained to make the launch a reality, “but we’re hopeful we can get there." Legalized gambling would thus be made available in time for the first game of the NFL season, on September 8, with both mobile and retail betting already available on soft launch.
The Kansas Gaming and Racing Commission approved sports betting regulations last week, and Gov. Laura Kelly said casinos in Dodge City, Mulvane, Pittsburg and Kansas City are being granted one-year provisional licenses under temporary rules. Tribal casinos are working with state officials on expanded compacts, and will be allowed to start taking wagers “as soon as they are ready,” Kelly further noted.
“This announcement represents a lot of hard work and collaboration between the Kansas Lottery, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, our casino and tribal partners,” Durrell said in a press release issued by the Lottery. “The process to bring this to fruition has moved at an unbelievable pace. We are excited to be bringing sports betting to Kansas players and adding more fun and exciting play options to the Sunflower State.”
Kansas Lottery's Stephen Durrell
But despite these positive developments, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office released a statement Thursday saying it has identified “significant legal issues” with the regulations proposed by the Kansas Lottery, reports KCTV. The office is reviewing the rules to ensure they are within the authority granted by law and are not contrary to any legal requirement.
“We are aware of the urgency in this matter and have expedited and nearly completed the initial review of the proposed regulations from the Kansas Lottery,” Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office said. “Our initial review has identified significant legal issues with the agency's proposed regulations.”
The office further said that “within days” it will be providing formal feedback to the Lottery, giving them the opportunity “to correct the legal deficiencies.” However, a specific timeline to address these issues was not provided, and the office did not elaborate on the potential problems found in the rules.
“We intend to approve these regulations as soon as the agency fixes the legal problems in their initial version,” Spokesman John Milburn said in a statement. “Our initial review of the proposed regulations from KRGC has begun and is also being expedited.”
Kansas’ sports betting bill was approved by the state Legislature this spring, after years of debate, and was signed into law by Gov. Kelly in May. “This will drive business to sporting events, casinos, restaurants, and other entertainment venues – just in time for football season,” the governor tweeted after the September launch announcement.
BREAKING: Starting September 1, sportsbooks at Kansas' four state-owned casinos can begin accepting wagers. This will drive business to sporting events, casinos, restaurants, and other entertainment venues -- just in time for football season.https://t.co/Wk1vinxYuh— Governor Laura Kelly (@GovLauraKelly) August 18, 2022
The law imposes a 10% state tax on the bets, with a majority of the revenue earmarked for a fund to lure pro sports teams to Kansas. It allows gaming on a both mobile and retail basis. Bettors may wager on sporting events at the four casinos, or up to 50 other locations chosen by each gaming venue.
Ahead of launch, gaming stakeholders have begun announcing partnerships and plans for the market. The state’s four casinos can partner with up to three online sportsbooks each. Boothill Casino in Dodge City announced deals with Bally Bet and DraftKings earlier this year; while Kansas Crossing in Pittsburg has partnerships with PointsBet and Caesars Sportsbook.
Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City is teaming up with Barstool Sportsbook; while BetMGM and FanDuel have access through Boyd Gaming’s operation of Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. DraftKings and FanDuel were among the first to unveil promotions for early registration, with $100 in free bets.
BetMGM joined the two giants on Thursday, unveiling pre-registration in the state as officials confirmed September’s launch. This sets the stage for the 24th operational market in North America for the brand, with new users being able to sign up to receive $200 in free bets.