KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act on Monday, making sports betting legal.
States now have the power to approve gambling on amateur and professional sports. Kansas is one of 18 states that already have bills in consideration, but it could be a while before sports betting becomes a reality.
The Kansas House won't be back in session until 2019. State Rep. Jan Kessinger, who introduced a bill to allow sports gambling, said it could be approved in January.
"Then you've got February, March, April, May, June for the businesses to embrace the structure, get ready and when July 1st comes, when Kansas laws take effect, you flip the switch and we're in the sports betting business," said Kessinger.
A lot of money may be at stake. Soren Petro, Sports Radio 810 host and Sunday Soundoff contributor, told 41 Action News, "The estimates are that it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $150-$200 billion illegally."
Under Kessinger's proposal, those bets would be taxed at 5 percent which would bring in $75 million a year into the state of Kansas.
"We can do a lot with that money. We can increase funding to education, we can do more road work, build more roads, we can invest in infrastructure. We can invest in foster kids," Kessinger said.
Petro added, "Kansas I know has a major shortfall in its budget. I think the taxpayers will welcome this with open arms."
Critics say legal sports betting could lead to players throwing, or intentionally losing, games for money.
"What's interesting is every fixing scandal that's ever been uncovered has been uncovered by the casinos, by the people taking the bets," Petro explained. "Nobody wants an honest contest more than the people that are setting the lines. This gives you regulation. This gives you someone to police it and I think instead of it being in the back rooms and all the money being in the hands of people who can't affect change... now it goes into the hands of people who can affect change."
Kessinger says opponents of his measure argue it's an expansion of gaming in the state. He disagrees saying, "It's just us being able to get money that's being spent outside the state of Kansas and let's keep it in Kansas."