Kansas Sports Betting Bill Passes House

A sports bill passed the Kansas House on Wednesday, 88-36.

House Substitute Senate Bill 84, as amended, now moves to a conference committee to iron out differences between two versions of the legislation. The Kansas Senate passed its bill in 2021.

The Kansas legislature is a biennium, meaning bills can carry over from the first year of the session. The second year of the session is slated to end May 20.  

State Rep. John Barker, who has championed sports legislation through the House, said in his closing remarks he felt the committee had “a good debate.”

The move by the House came somewhat as a surprise after Barker abruptly ended his committee hearing on the matter Tuesday.

What Sports In Kansas Could Look Like

The amended version of the bill includes a 2% tax on sports revenue to go toward a state program for problem gambling. This amendment puts the bill closer to what the original Senate bill looked like when passed in 2021. 

Still, it was not enough for several lawmakers who objected to the possibility of greater addiction and harm to families. Several spoke of increased suicides as a result of addictions, while others thought it foolish to create a problem and immediately fund potential fixes. 

The amended bill also extends provisions barring those who have self-excluded from from collecting sports winnings. 

Both amendments passed by voice vote. 

Additionally, the legislation creates a fund to combat white-collar crime related to gambling.

Both the House- and Senate-passed versions create an avenue for mobile sports as well as retail establishments.  Sports would be administered by the casinos but fall under the purview of the state lottery. 

Differences Between House And Senate Passed Versions

There are several key differences between the two bills which need to be worked on by a conference committee. 

Among those differences are varying tax rates: the House version taxes online sports betting at 14% and retail at 20%, while the Senate-passed version makes those rates at 8% and 5.5%.

Another difference is the House version includes agreements with professional sports teams, notably Sporting KC of MLS, the only professional sports team in Kansas. The Senate version allows both Kansas Speedway and Sporting KC to take part in sports betting.

Neighboring States Taking Action

Missouri has been considering sports betting legislation, and it’s a key priority for Kansas lawmakers to beat their neighbors to the east, evidenced by a social media post by House Minority Whip Stephanie Clayton, an advocate of sports betting.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is expected to sign the legislation should it pass in conference committee. 

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