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Setback Sends Sports Betting into Doubt in Kansas

Kansas lawmakers continue to attempt to legalize sports betting, but this has been a complicated process. It seemed as if things were heading in the right direction earlier this year. Unfortunately, that progress has come to a screeching halt.

The Kansas House Committee of the Whole voted 71-48 against a sports betting bill earlier this week. Yet it wasn’t the actual bill that has been gaining progress. The House was looking at a substitute bill for SB 84, as that piece of legislation has been changed numerous times in the past.

The State Senate approved SB 84 by a vote of 26-11. It was then introduced to the House on March 10. Lawmakers in the House made several amendments to the bill. It still did not gain enough support to get a vote of approval.

Lawmakers in the House voted against the bill for several reasons. Most of them weren’t even tied to sports betting. There wording within this bill would have permitted Sedgwick County to add slot machines at Wichita Greyhound Park.

There is currently a casino close to that location. Lawmakers were concerned that a lawsuit might happen if a re-vote took place. The House favors sports betting, but it wants to focus on a new bill that simply focuses on the new industry.

Changes Made to Bill

The original bill was more favorable to current casinos in the state. Each property would have been eligible to open a retail sportsbook. SB 84 initially gave those casino operators the ability to partner with three online sportsbook operators, too.

The bill voted on in the House expanded the retail sports betting options to more than 1,000 retailers across the state. This would have allowed for more locations to accept wagers, but it could have potentially hurt the current casino industry.

Both versions of the bill placed the Kansas Lottery in charge of sports betting. It had similar projections with regards to total sports betting revenue. Lawmakers project that Kansas could see more than $600 million in annual revenue, making Kansas a pretty small market.

Sides Need to Choose Only One Bill

If sports betting eventually passes in Kansas, lawmakers will have to focus on just one bill. Not only have there been disagreements with SB 84, but the House is also focusing on a completely separate piece of legislation.

House Bill 2444 is entirely different than SB 84. It would turn Kansas into major online sports betting industry. Retail locations could still accept wagers, but it would all be done through a terminal that displays the odds.

There is a chance that SB 84 will get sent back to the House for a vote in the coming weeks, and that piece of legislation has a better chance of eventually being passed. At this point, 2022 might be a better guess as to when the state will legalize sports betting.

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