Kansas Senate Committee Amends Sports Wagering Bill

Two weeks ago, a Kansas Senate committee promised to “work” SB 84 after hearing testimony from stakeholders, and Wednesday morning, the Federal and State Affairs Committee approved an amended version of the sports wagering bill. Among the key changes: the Kansas Lottery would regulate matters, but could not offer a sports wagering platform itself, and 2% of gross gaming revenue would benefit problem gambling initiatives.

The bill is sponsored by the committee, and now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

The committee heard a long list of amendments, and approved six before moving the bill by voice vote. The amendments were presented by committee staff, and many were technical in nature. As an example, lawmakers had already decided to increase the number of “skins” or online brands in SB 84 to three — up from two in the original bill — but that number was not reflected throughout the text, and was updated.

SB 84 would allow for statewide mobile sports betting, though digital operators would have to be tethered to brick-and-mortar casinos or professional sports franchises.

Greyhound lobby gets its due

Among the approved amendments was one to reduce the tax rates by 2%, but to send that 2% of GGR to problem gambling initiatives. In Kansas, 2% of casino revenue is already earmarked for problem gambling. The amendment means that if the bill becomes law, operators would be taxed at a rate of 5.5% of retail GGR and 8% of digital.

The committee also gave a nod to animal rights lobbyists, who asked for firmer language in relation to wagering on greyhound racing, and the committee accommodated the group.

Two weeks ago, representatives of the state’s convenience stores asked the committee to include the option for wagering via kiosk at lottery locations throughout the state. A House bill would allow for some 1,200 lottery partners to offer sports betting, but the Senate committee declined to expand its bill.

SB 84 is one of two sports wagering measures working its way through the state legislature. On the House side, HB 2199 is in that chamber’s Federal and State Affairs Committee, which held a hearing last week. Both bills call for statewide digital wagering and have other similarities. Besides the question of whether or not convenience stores should be included in the sports betting mix, the House bill has tax rates of 14% and 20%, would allow for wagering at racetracks, and calls for the use of official league data.

Should both bills pass their respective chambers, legislators will have to come to a consensus on outstanding issues in order to send a single bill to Gov. Laura Kelly. The Kansas Legislature is in session until May 15.

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