A bill to allow sports betting in Kansas awaits review by the Senate later this month after it passed the House during the last legislative session.
It’s important to understand the recent history of gambling in Kansas and the role Native American tribes have played and will play moving forward.
Here are the deep roots of Kansas’ tribes and their role in the history of gambling in Kansas.
Kickapoo Tribe opens first tribal casino in 1996
The first state-owned casino opened in Kansas in 2009. The Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City took years to build — and even longer to receive approval.
The Kansas Expanded Lottery Act was officially signed in 2007. This allowed the construction of four state-owned casinos in Kansas. Similar legislation had been considered since 2001, but it took six years for the legislation to gain approval.
While the state considered its casinos, the tribal nations of Kansas had been operating casinos worry-free for years.
The state approved Native Americans to run casinos in Kansas in 1995. This was seven years after the US Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The IGRA made it so that states could limit Native American casinos to the type of gaming authorized by the state.
Additionally, tribes had to negotiate a compact with their resident state regarding the scope of authorized gaming and the state’s role in it. Following the creation of the IGRA, the four tribes in Kansas began negotiating with the state for approved compacts.
It took some time, but the Kansas Legislature approved all four compacts in 1995. The first tribal casino opened on May 18, 1996, on the Kickapoo Reservation.
Today, all four of those tribes operate casino gaming facilities in The Sunflower State:
- Kickapoo Tribe opened the Golden Eagle Casino in 1996
- Sac and Fox Tribe opened the Sac and Fox Casino in 1997
- Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation opened the Harrah’s Prairie Band Casino in 1998
- Iowa Tribe opened the Casino White Cloud in 1998
The State Gaming Agency
By executive order, the Kansas State Legislature created the State Gaming Agency (SGA) in 1995. This was required by the four approved tribal compacts.
In 1996, thanks to the passage of the Tribal Gaming Oversight Act, the SGA was attached to the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission for budgetary purposes.
The gaming compacts between each tribe and the state define the relationship between the SGA and each tribe. But most of the main parts are consistent throughout each compact.
The tribal gaming commission is responsible for the regulation of tribal gaming facilities. But enforcement agents of the SGA also work in the gaming facilities and have free access to all areas.
The SGA is also responsible for conducting background checks of:
- All gaming employees
- Manufacturers of supplies
- Gaming management companies and consultants
Tribal casinos in Kansas
There are currently seven tribal casinos operating in Kansas:
- 7th Street Casino (The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma)
- Casino White Cloud (Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska)
- Downstream Casino Resort (Quapaw Tribe)
- Golden Eagle Casino (Kickapoo nation in Kansas)
- Crosswinds Casino (Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma)
- Prairie Band Casino (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation)
- Sac and Fox Casino (Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska)
What the future holds for tribal casinos
The Kansas House held its yearly legislative session at the end of March. And to many people’s surprise, lawmakers presented a bill for Kansas sports betting.
A committee heard testimony from three state-run casinos and one tribal casino. Some testimonies were regarding the idea of a lottery-based sports betting program.The Kansas House went on to pass the bill. But it is currently in limbo following the conference committee.
Allowing sports betting could open up a new revenue stream for Native American-run casinos. Their history in Kansas legalized gambling dates back more than 25 years.
Photo by Shutterstock