With two weeks left in the legislative session, Kansas is preparing to move on sports betting legislation.
The House Committee on Federal and State Affairs released new sports betting language Wednesday. House Bill 2740 will get a hearing in the committee Tuesday at 8 a.m. local time.
Last year the Senate passed a sports betting bill, which carried over to this year. The House then came out with its own proposal late in the legislative session. But the differences were too great to work out an agreement in 2021.
This House proposal gets closer to the Senate bill on a few points but leaves big gaps in other areas. The biggest difference remains the tax rate.
House doesn’t budge on tax rate
The proposed tax rate from the House bill remains 20% for online wagers and 14% for bets placed at casinos.
In comparison, the Senate bill asks for only 8% for online wagers and 5.5% for retail. Additionally, 2% goes to a problem gambling fund.
Kansas’ four casinos, which operate under the state lottery, are lobbying for the Senate tax rate.
Jeff Morris of Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, told PlayKansas:
“We do have reservations with the tax rate, which is uncompetitive with the neighboring states of Iowa (7.5%) and Colorado (10%), not to mention the rampant illegal market which pays no taxes and has no consumer protections. We look forward to testifying on this specific issue when the bill is up in Committee.”
Morris added that PNG appreciates the hard work by committee chairman Rep. John Barker and is generally supportive of the bill’s framework.
Details of House sports betting bill
An increase in skins marks the biggest change in this House proposal.
Now the four casinos can each partner with up to three online sports wagering platforms. That opens the possibility for 12 mobile sportsbooks compared to four. The Senate bill also allows for three skins.
Other details of the House bill include:
- The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commmission will oversee sports betting regulation.
- Allows for wagering on professional, collegiate and motor sports, or special events authorized by the commission.
- Sets a mininum age requirement of 21 to wager on sports.
- Allows each casino to partner with up to 50 retailers to provide kiosks.
- Native American tribes can renegotiate new compacts to get mobile and retail sports wagering.
- Increases the amount casinos must give to the Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund each year from $80,000 to $100,000.
- Sedgewick County can host a historical horse racing facility with up to 1,000 machines.
- Permits the Kansas Lottery to to sell tickets or shares online. They may not simulate the play of a slot machine.
Time frame for Kansas sports betting effort
The Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs held a hearing sports betting on Jan. 12, the third day of the session.
At the hearing, chairman Sen. Robert Olson pledged to work with the House to find a compromise.
A spokesman for Sen. Olson tells PlayKansas that the Senate is waiting to see what the House passes.
Then the issue will go to a conference committee to find a compromise.
The Kansas legislative session ends on April 1.
Photo by Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press