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Want to wager on sports in Kansas? Well, for the first time, you can probably bet on a bill legalizing it becoming law.
After years of deadlock, legislators sent Gov. Laura Kelly a proposal Thursday allowing Kansans to bet on the Kansas City Chiefs or the University of Kansas Jayhawks.
Kelly is expected to sign the measure, making Kansas the 34th state with legalized sports betting.
The effort was years in the making, with negotiators in the Kansas Senate and House finally hashing out a deal earlier this month, though the final product was not without controversy.
Under the bill, casinos can partner with online betting platforms, as well as up to 50 retailers, such as a restaurant or gas station, to offer in-person betting, with a certain number mandated to be nonprofits.
The Kansas Speedway and Sporting Kansas City could offer betting and the state's federally recognized tribes could enter into individual deals to create a program similar to the state-sanctioned casinos.
The state will take a flat 10% cut of all bets, regardless of whether they are placed online or in person.
Kansas is unlikely to strike it rich by legalizing sports betting. Under a previous, more expansive version of the bill, the Kansas Lottery revenues of as much as $10 million by Fiscal Year 2025. That means the state should expect to bring in only a few million dollars a year.
"This is long overdue," Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, said on the House floor.
Missouri unlikely to legalize sports betting
In an unexpected coup for Kansas, Missouri lawmakers appear unlikely to legalize the practice after initially appearing to be drawing near to a deal on their own sports betting framework.
But many Kansas legislators maintained their opposition to any expansion of gambling, arguing it is a bad deal for the state or will prompt a corresponding increase in addiction.
The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates 62,800 Kansans — 2.8% of the adult population — have a gambling problem.
And other states have seen a rise in addiction after sports betting was legalized, particularly among younger bettors. Under the bill 2% of all revenues would go to the Problem Gambling Trust Fund and language would better ensure those funds go to specifically address gambling addiction.
Sen. Virgil Peck, R-Havana, compared the bill to a "Twilight Zone" episode where a couple was offered the chance to receive $10,000 — while killing a stranger in the process.
"Someone we do not know, their life will be destroyed if we pass this legislation," Peck said.
But Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, chair of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, said the bill was common sense, as residents were currently sports betting using an off-shore service or driving out of state.
"I think it is time to let Kansans participate and use these apps, like buying a ticket at QuikTrip," he said.
Most sports betting revenue to be used to lure Chiefs, Royals to Kansas
A few other wrinkles in the bill also drew scrutiny.
A majority of revenue would be funneled to the "Attracting Professional Sports to Kansas Fund," an apparent attempt to capitalize on recent rumors that the Kansas City Chiefs would entertain moving their stadium across the border from Missouri.
The bill was tweaked at the last minute to place the fund under the purview of the Department of Commerce, though legislators could elect to spend the money elsewhere if they chose.
Members have been enthusiastic about the prospect of luring the Chiefs across the border. Olson acknowledged the fund would not be enough on its own to get a team.
But he added the move could be a big boost to the state's economy, noting the stadium would likely be housed at the Legends complex in western Kansas City, Kan., and could spur on further development in the region.
"It would make that a stronger area," he said. "If we could make it financially make sense, I wouldn't have a problem doing that."
Machines at Wichita park could prompt horse racing lawsuit
The bill also includes a provision allowing for machines at the Wichita Greyhound Park that allow gamblers to bet on a randomly selected virtual horse race from some time in the past.
The practice, dubbed historical horse racing, could prompt a lawsuit, with the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, one county south of Wichita, likely to argue historical horse racing violates the contract created when the state legalized casino betting in 2007.
"This is an expansion of gambling beyond sports betting," said Sen. Renee Erickson, R-Wichita. "We would knowingly break a contract with an entity that is operating in good faith. ... It does not make ethical sense, it does not make financial sense."
Others argue historical horse racing is tantamount to pari-mutuel betting, a different class of gaming that would be allowable under the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act.
"The exposure on that is next to nothing," said Sen. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita.
The story has been updated to clarify how much revenue the state stands to gain by legalizing sports betting.
Andrew Bahl is a senior statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 443-979-6100.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Sports betting set to be legal in Kansas after lawmakers approve bill