Kansas, Kentucky on the short list for legalized sports gambling


Legalized sports gambling continues to spread its blanket across the U.S. A number of states have already embraced the activity since the U.S. Supreme Court nixed PASPA almost two years ago, and two more states are closer than ever to seeing legalized sports wagers. If things go according to plan, Kansas and Kentucky could find approval for sports gambling at some point this year. It may already be too late to take advantage of Super Bowl LIV betting, but there’s always next year.

kansas-kentucky-on-the-short-list-for-legalized-sports-gamblingLegislators who form part of the Kansas Senate’s Federal and State Affairs Committee (FSAC) met yesterday to discuss a sports gambling bill. This is the second attempt by lawmakers in the state to legalize the activity following the failure of a bill last year to find enough support. Now, after seeing how other states have rolled out their initiatives, it has reinvigorated Kansas to join the growing group.

According to Senator Bud Estes, who chairs the FSAC, “Now [other states are] set up and running, and they’re pretty much a guide for us, know what will work and what won’t work. It is a revenue flow for them, again not huge, where their advantage is going to be is drawing people into them, maybe come into sports bet, well then decide they want to do some slot machines or have dinner or whatever. It increases their traffic.”

If the language of the bill stays intact, the Kansas Lottery would be put in charge of managing the activity. Casinos would be allowed to launch their own sportsbooks and they, as well as the state, would benefit by taking 7-10% of each wager placed. The FSAC has to hash out a few differences in the bill and, possibly within a couple of weeks, will be ready to vote on it. Depending on how that vote goes, it would then be forwarded to the full Senate for further discussion.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is behind sports gambling, as well as expanded gaming, in the Bluegrass State. He made that clear when he was running for governor and is now in a position to try to make a difference. After a legislative committee unanimously agreed about a week ago to support a sports gambling bill, he’s banking on those results to garner more support for the initiative.

During his recent budget address, Beshear took the opportunity to address sports gambling and what it would mean to the state. The revenue the activity generates would help bring improved roads, improved education and more jobs, and he sees only one clear outcome – to approve the bill.

Like Kansas, Kentucky tried last year to legalize sports gambling, but those efforts fell flat. However, the recent support in the current legislative session should be the impetus toward eventual approval, and Beshear told the lawmakers, “My hope, moving into the future, is that we can embrace full, expanded gaming to compete with Indiana, Ohio and the rest of our neighbors, Republican-led states that are taking Kentucky dollars. Sports betting represents some expanded gaming even if it is not full blown. In sports betting $20 to $40-million we can do great things.”

If he wants to see progress, Beshear will need to hurry. The legislative session ends on April 15, and he would need to have the bill pushed through before then. He prodded the lawmakers during the budget address, adding, “Let’s just keep the dollars here and let’s take the jobs it creates.”