TOPEKA, Kan. — A bill legalizing sports wagering in Kansas is moving closer to becoming a reality.
On Thursday, state lawmakers met to consider a compromise bill. House lawmakers approved the legislation late in the afternoon. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later in the evening.
Included in the legislation is an amendment to attract a professional sports team like the Kansas City Chiefs or another franchise to Kansas.
“Missouri needs to take notice," Sen. Rob Olson of Olathe said. "We want to give the opportunities to franchises if they want to move across the line and be in Kansas."
Olson thinks the Legends sports and entertainment complex in Kansas City, Kansas, would be a perfect location for a professional sports team.
“There’s so much stuff out there and I think a sports franchise or two would just really, it would be a great area to hang out in and as people come in and out of town."
Kansas is on the brink of joining over 30 other states that have legalized sports betting.
Rep. Stephanie Clayton of Overland Park is a supporter of the sports betting bill and said technology ensures that people would either stay in or come to Kansas to place wagers.
"There’s a geofencing that’s makes it so that it will only work on your mobile device when you cross our state lines and so while people are enjoying that, they will also be spending money in our restaurants, in our sports bars," Clayton said.
Lawmakers estimate Kansas could bring in around $5 million dollars with legalized sports wagering. However, Rep. Paul Waggoner from Hutchinson said he can't support the bill because there's not enough attention going to gambling addiction.
“This bill is going to literally double the amount of wagering in Kansas and the state of Kansas is hardly going to take in $5 million dollars from it and there’s very little money that’s going go to the problem gambling fund," Waggoner said.
During a GOP caucus meeting, House leaders said around $20,000 would go into a problem gambling fund, which would be an addition to money already going into the fund.
If Senate lawmakers approve the compromise bill, it will head to Gov. Laura Kelly for her signature.