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Kansas Wins Sports Betting ‘Border War’ with Missouri

Kansas Wins Sports Betting ‘Border War’ with Missouri article feature image
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Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas leads Missouri in its infamous ‘Border War’ college basketball rivalry,  175-95 all time.

Today it tallied another victory against its rival state by passing legal sports betting first.

The Kansas Senate voted in the wee hours of Friday morning 21-13 to legalize online and retail sports betting under a 10% tax.  Gov. Laura Kelly is expected to sign the bill when it reaches her desk.  It’s estimated to raise $10 million a year and should start by January 1, 2023.

Earlier this week the Senate rejected a proposal already passed by the House. The two sides came together Thursday agreeing to several concessions before passing the same legislation in both chambers:

  • Reimbursements paid to historic horse racing operators pending a Supreme Court decision that their machines breach the state’s gaming law.
  • Direction of a fund used to attract pro sports teams given to the Department of Commerce.

Permanent rules and regulations must be made by Jan. 2023, setting the state up for one of the fastest launches since the Supreme Court allowed them to legalize.

Kansas’ four casinos will hold three online licenses each and may partner with up to 50 private retailers. Tribes can also get involved if they wish.

Kansas vs. Missouri

After a months-long back-and-forth, in which lawmakers from each state openly competed to pass legal sports betting first, Kansas beat Missouri to the punch.

Kansas Rep. Stephanie Clayton said last month that Missouri’s push to legalize was a driving factor in the work to pass sports betting in Kansas.

Missouri, at one time appeared to be in the lead, but its proposal went up in flames Wednesday night following an hours-long filibuster over a provision to legalize video lottery terminals.

Both states are surrounded by legal sports betting and have tried to legalize for years. Kansas joins Colorado and Nebraska. Missouri is now surrounded by five legal state, and Kentucky its sole nonlegal neighbor.

Eighty percent of tax revenue from Kansas sports betting fund state efforts to attract a new professional sports team. Missouri’s bill would have given the Kansas City Chiefs a mobile betting license, though that will have to wait.

The team is reportedly considering moving out of the state, possibly to Kansas.

Close Senate Vote

Kansas passed legal sports betting just one vote over the 50% threshold needed.

Senators spent several hours Thursday night and into Friday morning debating impacts on gambling addiction, availability of betting apps to minors and even making comparisons to prostitution.

“Instead of being the 33rd stat to legalize this activity why don’t we become the second state and legalize prostitution?” asked Sen. Renee Erickson (R). “Want to talk about gangbusters and job creation—what’s the difference? And what’s next?”

Sen. Virgil Peck (R) followed, with  a 15-minute-long description of a Twilight Zone TV episode form the 1960’s. He concluded likening sports betting to the supernatural.

Gov. Kelly’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment, though she has been supportive of sports betting in the past. Expect legal sports betting in Kansas by January 2023.

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