Agreement Reached For Kansas Sports Betting Bill

KS sports betting passage

The Kansas Senate punted the adoption of a conference committee report on sports betting until late April despite the committee reaching an agreement on Kansas sports betting language Friday.

The House adopted the report past midnight Friday night, though not without controversy. The Senate adjourned at 1:30 am local time without taking up the issue.

After laying out a number of differences between the versions of the bill passed by each chamber the previous day, the committee sped through them over two meetings.

It appeared Thursday that parts of the bill not related to sports betting might hold up the bill. But committee chairs Sen. Robert Olson and Rep. John Barker worked out the differences.

Barker and Olson had hoped to get the bill done by Friday’s end of the regular session to provide more time for the Kansas Lottery to develop rules and regulations for legal sports betting in Kansas. Instead, the issue will carry on to the veto session, which begins April 25.

The bill requires the Kansas Lottery to adopt permanent rules and regulations by Jan. 1, 2023.

Details of Kansas sports betting bill

The Kansas legislature worked on SB 84 over the past two years. The Senate passed its bill last year but the House had a very different proposal.

The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement in 2021, but they did in the second year of the two-year session. Here’s the main points:

  • Allows Kansas’ four casinos to have retail sports betting and each partner with up to three online sports betting platforms.
  • A casino may request approval of one additional skin to go through a professional sports teamSporting KC, a Major League Soccer club, is the only professional team in the state.
  • Tax rate of 10% on both retail and online sports bets.
  • The Kansas Lottery will oversee sports betting regulation. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission handles regulations on sports gambling advertisements.
  • Allows for betting on professionalcollegiate and motorsports, or special events authorized by the commission.
  • Sets a minimum age requirement of 21 to bet on sports in Kansas.
  • Allows each casino to enter into up to 50 marketing agreements to place sports betting kiosks or interactive lounges at facilities around the state. Professional sports teams and the Kansas Speedway specifically get sports betting kiosks. Nonprofit fraternal and veterans organizations must make up 8% of a casino’s marketing agreements.
  • Requires the governor to renegotiate new compacts with Native American tribes to include mobile and retail sports betting.

Differences worked out in conference committee

Here were the main areas of contention and how they were settled:

  • Tax rate: The House proposed 20% online/14% retail and the Senate 8% online/5.5% retail. They met at a more industry-friendly 10% for each.
  • Marketing agreements: The Senate embraced the House proposal allowing a sports betting presence at up to 50 places.
  • Supplier licenses: The Senate accepted House language for the Kansas Lottery to license suppliers of odds services and data.
  • Problem Gambling fund contribution: The Senate wanted to give 2% of sports gambling revenue to the Problem Gambling and Addictions Fund. But it accepted the House proposal to provide 2% of state tax revenue to the fund. Both sides agreed to look into legislation next year preventing transfer of money from the fund for other budgetary issues.
  • Funding sports betting account: The House agreed to Senate language allowing patrons to fund accounts with cash, electronic bank transfers, debit/credit cards, online money transfer systems, promotional funds and any other payment method permitted by the lottery.
  • Self-exclusion list: The Senate agreed to House language that anyone on the self-exclusion list forfeits the winnings of a bet to the Problem Gambling and Addictions Fund.
  • Historical horse racing: The Senate agreed to House language allowing a maximum of 1,000 historical horse racing machines at a pari-mutuel facility in Sedgewick County.
  • Online lottery: The Senate agreed not to include the sale of online lottery tickets. Olson suggested the legislature work on the issue in a separate bill next year.
  • Gray machines: The Senate agreed to House language requesting an investigation into gray machines, with the understanding that the legislature will look more into the issue next year.
  • Greyhounds simulcast: Barker made a plea on Thursday to allow for simulcast gambling on greyhounds. But he agreed to address the issue separately in the future.

Revenue goes toward bringing Kansas a sports team

Barker pitched an amendment Friday that wasn’t in either bill. He proposed that 80% of the state’s tax revenue from sports wagering goes to a new Attracting Professional Sports in Kansas Fund.

Currently, Kansas only has an MLS team in Sporting KC. The Kansas City Chiefs president recently said the team is considering options to move the team from Missouri and Arrowhead Stadium to Kansas.

Barker proposed fund revenue could go toward financing and construction of a stadium or arena. Showing how much Kansas wants the Chiefs, the Senate agreed.

“We have one professional sports team in the state of Kansas,” Barker said. “With this fund, we will have money available … for if a team wants to move into Wichita or the Kansas side of Kansas City. We would have some incentive that we could offer them to come.”

Motion to reject conference report fails by single vote

When a conference committee comes to terms on a bill in any state, it’s a near certainty that the chambers adopt the conference committee report to pass the bill.

That almost didn’t happen in the Kansas House. Rep. Henry Helgerson made a motion not to adopt the conference report and instead assign a new conference committee. The motion could have killed the bill.

Helgerson’s objection to the report centered around the 80% of sports betting tax revenue going toward building a new stadium for a professional team. He argued that this wasn’t previously agreed upon in caucus.

“I want to make sure that we’re maximizing the profits and that everything is done above board,” Helgerson said. “When I see that we’re going to start dedicating money to something that we had not been told about for a new sports facility, or something, and no one has said if we don’t build a sports facility, what happens to that money.”

Helgerson’s motion appeared on the verge of passing. But House Speaker Ron Ryckman is a big proponent of building the Chiefs a stadium. And, after some apparent cajoling from leadership, the motion deadlocked 56-56, failing to receive a majority by a single vote.

Barker then motioned for the House to adopt the committee report, and the motion passed 63-49.

The Senate went into caucus following the House vote. But when it returned, the Senate opted to adjourn without addressing the conference committee report.

Photo by Ed Zurga / Associated Press