KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sports gambling in Kansas isn’t new, but legally placed wagers on sporting events are set to become a reality for the first time in the coming months under the auspices of the Kansas Lottery.
Technically, the Kansas Lottery owns and operates non-tribal casinos in the state, so they also will own the sportsbooks that open after legislation passed last month is signed.
“It’s an exciting time. It’s something the people of the state of Kansas have wanted for a really long time,” Kansas Lottery Executive Director Stephen Durrell said Thursday in an interview with KSHB 41. “I think that just making sure that we implement it to the best of our ability, makes it a little bit stressful. But for the most part, it’s more exciting than stressful right now.”
How soon will Kansans be able to place a wager? That all depends on the final legislation, which has yet to be finalized and sent to Gov. Laura Kelly’s for a signature.
Regardless of whether the bill legalizes sports wagering immediately or on July 1, the Kansas Lottery plans to be ready.
“We’re trying to figure out, in a perfect world, how would this work, and how can we help our casino partners get this stuff up and running as fast as we can?” Durrell said. “Everybody’s anxious to get it done. We just make sure that it’s done safely and fairly, and make sure that, when it gets up and operating, it is the most efficient and fun for the players that it can be.”
Kansas Lottery staff already are working with the state’s casino partners “to get this up and operating as quickly as we can, regardless of what timeframe it becomes legal,” Durrell said. “... It’s certainly something that we’re working on now.”
Sportsbooks and mobile gaming, which will be implemented through agreements with the state via casinos, are expected to be among the options for betting enthusiasts.
Smaller casinos may rely on popular gambling apps, like FanDuel or DraftKings, while the larger casinos, like those in the Kansas City area, may operate their own systems.
But it won’t stop there.
Fans at professional sports events eventually will be able to place wagers on site, “through marketing agreements with the casinos,” Durrell said.
That potentially includes venues like Children’s Mercy Park and Kansas Speedway in kansas City, Kansas.
“After that, there will be certain retailers in the state, certain bars and restaurants and other places, that, if they want to partner with the casinos, they may be able to offer it through the mobile application process,” Durrell said.
The picture is a bit more murky for tribal casinos, which would be able to offer sports wagering under the law but only after the compacts with the state are amended.
“That would be a much longer process,” Durrell said.
The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission would regulate sportsbooks as they do for other casino operations, ensuring that machines are working properly and payouts are at the proper levels.
“I think it’s certainly a victory for the folks who will enjoy sports wagering in Kansas,” Durrell said. “There have been a lot of sports wagers placed in a way that are not necessarily legal under the current framework.”
Legalization also should curtail the use of offshore sportsbooks, which sometimes stiff people on winnings.
“It’s brought more into the light,” Durrell said. “People have the ability to know that if they are using the applications that are through the state, through the casinos that they are going to be fair, they’re going to be regulated and they’ll have the ability to receive their winnings.”