Kansas has taken some preliminary steps to legalize sports betting. If a meeting of the Senate Federal and State Committee on February 10th and 11th gives a hint, they'll be there soon. Lawmakers opened the discussion with supporters of its efforts and spoke to Jeff Morris, director of government affairs at Penn National Gaming, on the subject of Senate Bill 84, which aims to legalize mobile betting.
Morris praised what he saw on the bill. It has low tax rates (7.5% on gross gaming revenue for retail, 10% for digital games) and no official league data mandate, for which it would rather keep the status quo. "These deals can be done privately and should not be required by law if a third party declares it 'economically reasonable'," he told the committee. "What can be" economically sensible "for leagues that are not exposed to competition can be at odds with the reality of sports betting providers in a highly competitive environment."
Morris was the only sports betting representative to appear for the hearing, but others gave testimony. Ryan Soultz of Boyd Gaming celebrated the mobile betting component of the bill. "Mobile is not only necessary to compete against the unregulated offshore locations, but it's an option that the weather demands," he said.
Derek Hein, a lobbyist for DraftKings and Fanuel, also added testimonials stating the importance of Kansas keeping up with its neighbors, with Missouri and Nebraska considering legalization.
The Kansas Senate began passing laws that would allow sports betting in 2020, but efforts to establish a final framework were not enforced. The debate isn't quite over either. While the Senate version of SB84 in no way dictates official league dates, the State House version does.
There are also opponents of the bill who testified on February 11th. It's not that they are against sports betting. They also want to participate. Under the current draft of SB84, Kansas casinos would work with operators like PNG, DraftKings, and Boyd, but would exclude other local operators. That makes the lottery dealers unhappy.
Becky Schwartz, assistant manager of the convenience store advocacy group Fuel True – Independent Energy and Convenience, said her group would oppose the bill as long as 1,100 convenience retailers in Kansas are banned from taking bets. Horse Track lobbyists also noted that if they were included in the action, it could save their industry.