Kansas Sports Betting Heads to Conferencing after House Passage

Kansas Sports Betting Heads to Conferencing after House Passage article feature image

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Despite stalling in committee yesterday without a vote, a bill to legalize online and retail betting in Kansas passed out of the House on Wednesday.

The bill passed 88-36 after House lawmakers amended it to add more revenue for problem gambling treatment. The Senate and House will meet next for a conferencing committee, where they’ll look to reach a compromise on competing tax rates.

Progress in the legislature nearly went up in flames yesterday after lawmakers in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee nearly uprooted control from the casinos to a state lottery monopoly. That would have effectively gutted the entire bill, according to committee chair Rep. John Barker (R).

The hearing unexpectedly ended without a vote, but the House later amended a competing Senate bill to include language from the House bill—setting it up for today’s floor vote.

High Tax or Low Tax

The Senate bill would tax online sports betting at 8% and retail at 5.5%, as opposed to the House version that would tax each at 20% and 14%, respectively.

For the bill to be sent to Gov. Laura Kelly (D)—who’s been bullish on sports betting—the Senate must pass an identical version before the legislature adjourns on May 20. They’ll meet for a conference committee in the coming weeks.

Lawmakers will also have to agree on whether or not to let sportsbooks deduct revenue tied to free play bets from their taxable revenue, as a handful of states have done. The House version would not allow it, while the Senate's would.

Last year it was the Senate that passed a sports betting bill and the House that refused to compromise.

“This has been a good debate that has been ongoing for years. It’s nice to pass this today,” said Rep. John Barker, who chairs the Federal and State Affairs committee.

His bill is estimated to raise between $6-10 million a year.

Border War

Kansas may have the edge on Missouri when it comes to their college basketball rivalry, but its lawmakers want to make sure it beats its neighbor out in sports betting as well.

H Sub Sub SB 84: sports wagering passes 88-36 on Emergency Final Action. I voted YES. #ksleg Senate, it's your move. We can beat the #moleg; their Senate is making it weird.

— ❄️Stephanie Clayton❄️ (@SSCJoCoKs) March 30, 2022

Throughout the legislative process lawmakers from both states have repeatedly cited just how close their neighbors are to legalizing sports betting.

Early this week the Missouri House sent its sports betting bill to the state Senate, setting it up for a final vote before the legislature adjourns May 13. It is the furthest each state has made it towards legalizing and a lot of that may be due to the pressure they've put on each other to get it done first.

"I do not like Missouri. I want to beat them," Rep. Stephanie Clayton (D) said during a hearing earlier this week.

More on Kansas' Bills

Online tax rates in the final bill will likely end up somewhere between 8-20%, which would be considered middle-of-the road compared to other states.

Both versions require casinos to pay $100,000 annually to the Problem Gambling and Addiction fund.

The rest of the bill passed by the House should stay the same:

  • Licenses for four casinos to conduct online and retail sports betting
  • Casinos allowed to partner with up to three online sportsbooks each
  • Native American Tribes allowed to update gaming compacts to offer sports betting
  • Up to 1,000 Historic Horse Racing Machines in Sedgewick County
  • No one under the age of 21 allowed to bet on sports

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