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Kansas Expected to Pass Legal Sports Betting Bill Tonight

Kansas Expected to Pass Legal Sports Betting Bill Tonight article feature image

Jeff Haynes/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: The Kansas Jayhawks mascot

The Kansas legislature is expected to pass a legal sports betting bill tonight, according to Rep. Stephanie Clayton (D).

The House is slated to pass a bill pre-negotiated with their Senate counterparts later this afternoon, Clayton said. The Senate will need to hold their own vote afterwards, but passage looks promising after both sides held a conference committee today.

“If you tune in you’ll see some people that just hate gambling — both democrats and republicans, but it’ll be fine,” Clayton said. “We all know that everyone has their right to say good things or bad things but the vote count in the House is looking good.”

The Senate vote is expected to be tighter, according to sources familiar with the bill. Senate President Ty Masterson (R) is supportive, which is typically a good sign for passage.

Earlier this week the prospect of passage faltered after the Senate rejected a previous conference committee report and declined to vote SB 84. The bill had been amended to direct 80% of revenue from sports betting to attracting new professional sports teams to the state.

Up and Running by 2023

Like the bill passed in Ohio, Kansas’ bill directs that sports betting regulations must be up and running by Jan. 1, 2023.

Online and retail sports betting are expected to be taxed at a 10% rate. Operators may exclude revenue tied to promotions and free play form their taxable income, as well — a huge win for the industry.

It provides up to three online licenses for each of the state’s four casinos, so you should see major sportsbooks in Kansas. Up to 50 private retailers may contract with license holders to operate kiosks and online betting areas. Kansas’ native tribes may amend their compacts with the state to offer sports betting, as well.

Betting on Kansas colleges will be allowed under the bill, which also sets the minimum age to bet at 21.

Concessions for Both Sides

House voters will be appeased by putting the Department of Commerce in charge of that fund instead of the State Finance Council, Clayton said.

“A lot of people didn’t like the state finance council controlling it because it’s a small group of legislatures that do not meet year round,” Clayton said. “Now it’s a lot more in line with the way we do any other economic development project.”

Clayton said Senators will be appeased by eliminating a portion of the bill that would have made Phil Ruffin, a Wichita casino owner,  pay for potential violations of the state’s betting laws. Under the previous version he would have received up to $70 million back from new gaming revenue.

During a previous hearing, Ruffin’s representatives called the financial agreement unnecessary because taking bets on historic horse races isn’t technically illegal under parimutuel law. Historic horse race betting machines are a grey area of Kansas’ gaming law.

The House is slated to vote at 3 p.m. local time. The Senate will likely vote much later.

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