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Surprising End to Kansas Committee Hearing Holds up Sports Betting Bill

Robert Linnehan

by Robert Linnehan in Sports Betting News

Updated Mar 30, 2022 · 6:46 AM PDT

A surprising end to a Kansas Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting has suddenly cast doubt on the chances for Kansas sports betting this year. 
  • The Kansas Federal and State Affairs Committee did not pass the state’s sports betting bill
  • A last minute amendment upending the entire bill was narrowly defeated
  • Time is now running out on the state’s chances for legalized sports betting this year

A surprising end to a Kansas Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting has suddenly cast some doubt on the chances for Kansas sports betting this year.

Committee Chairman John Barker (D-70) abruptly adjourned the committee meeting this morning without taking a vote on HB 2740, which would legalize online and retail sports betting at Kansas casinos. Several amendments to the bill were approved, but one last-minute amendment that would have given the Kansas Lottery full-control over sports betting was not.

During a committee meeting last week, Barker said he hoped the committee would approve the bill today and kick it up to the House floor for a potential vote this afternoon. Instead, sports betting proponents are now left wondering if time is running out on the state’s chances to approve a sports betting bill.

For now, the bill remains in the Kansas Federal and State Affairs Committee waiting for approval from its members.

What Exactly Happened During the Meeting?

No specific reason was given for the adjournment of the Federal and State Affairs Committee meeting before a vote on the bill could be taken. The last point of business before the adjournment was a vote on the reconsideration of a specific amendment to disallow the online sale of Kansas lottery tickets from the bill.  The amendment failed earlier in the morning, and the reconsideration vote failed as well.

After the vote was taken, Barker called for an adjournment of the meeting and no more action was taken.

Rep. Stephanie Clayton (D-19), a proponent of sports betting, shed some light on what happened on her social media feeds after the meeting.

The committee meeting saw several amendments approved for the bill, mainly some technical aspects and changes to the number of agreements for sports betting kiosks, but one proposed amendment that did not receive approval would have likely cast doubt on the sports betting bill as a whole.

Major Sports Betting Bill Amendment Voted Down

In a rather surprising moment, Rep. Francis Awerkamp (R-61) floated an amendment to the sports betting bill that called for the Kansas Lottery to take control of sports betting in the state, rather than granting the state casinos the majority of the power.

Awerkamp’s amendment would have granted the state lottery the ability to put out RFP’s for sports betting agreements, rather than granting that ability to Kansas casino operators, and in theory would have allowed the state to keep the majority of sports betting revenues.

Awerkamp noted that fiscal estimates for HB 2740 showed a potential of $6 million to $10 million in annual sports betting revenues. His amendment, he estimated, showed the potential for $80 million to $90 million annually for the state.

“All revenues would be retained by the state,” he said.

Barker shared some strong words for the potential amendment, flat-out claiming that if the amendment was approved Kansas sports betting would not happen this year.

“If this gets on, we will not have sports betting. The casinos are not on board, the other parties are not on board, the retailers are not on board. I can’t think of anyone that is on board,” he said.

The amendment was narrowly defeated.

Kansas Sports Betting Bill Details

If approved, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission will oversee sports betting in the state. The bill will allow for sports betting on professional events, collegiate events, motor race events, and any special athletic event deemed appropriate by the racing and gaming commission.

The bill would allow up to three online sports betting operators per Kansas casino. Originally, the bill only called for one allowable partnership, but was later amended to allow for three to model the Senate sports betting bill.

Additional Bill Details

In addition to state casinos, Kansas Native American Tribes would have the opportunity to amend their gaming compacts to allow for retail or online sports betting at their facilities.

The sports betting bill also includes the following:

  • State casinos would be required to give $100,000 to the Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund each year.
  • The minimum age to participate in sports betting will be 21.
  • Historic Horse Racing machines will be legalized.
  • The House bill will not allow for promotional write offs or deductions of the federal excise tax for online sports betting operators. The Senate bill does.
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