Kansas lawmakers authorize study of sports gambling

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

TOPEKA — Kansas legislative leaders on Friday authorized two days of meetings before the 2019 session to study, and possibly recommend, legislation to legalize gambling on sporting events.

Two bills were introduced during the 2018 session that would have authorized the Kansas Lottery to operate sports wagering, but neither bill came out of committee. Lawmakers said at the time that they wanted to wait for a U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case challenging a federal law that prohibited all but a few states to allow sports wagering.

In May, the court issued its decision striking down that law as unconstitutional, thereby opening the door for states to get into the sports wagering business.

In Kansas, the only legal forms of gambling are the state-owned and operated lottery and some betting on dog and horse races.

There currently are no dog or horse racing tracks operating in the state. In 2017, though, lawmakers passed a bill expanding the definition of “lottery” to include other kinds of gaming events at four state-owned and operated casinos.

In committee hearings during the session, representatives from Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association told lawmakers that if they did legalize sports betting, they should make sure the law includes strict regulations to prevent gambling from corrupting the integrity of their games.

They also asked for provisions that would give each sport’s governing body a percentage of the revenue to offset their costs for increased monitoring and enforcement of league regulations.

There were no reliable estimates of how much revenue sports wagering would generate for the state. Officials said much of that would depend on the types of sports betting that would be allowed, and whether it would be restricted only to the four gaming casinos, or whether the Kansas Lottery would be allowed to offer online betting as well.

No dates have yet been set for the meetings, which would be held by a special joint committee.


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