Lawmakers Weighing Bill to Restrict Kansas Sports Betting Advertisements

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 24, 2024 08:00 PM
Lawmakers Weighing Bill to Restrict Kansas Sports Betting Advertisements

Lawmakers in the Sunflower State are currently discussing a bill that would forever change the landscape of Kansas sports betting advertisements. More than that, if successful, the initiative could also shift how online sportsbooks in the USA are allowed to promote their services across the entire country.

The measure in question, Senate Bill 432, aims to prohibit “advertising of sports wagering through internet websites and electronic device applications.” While it is not the first initiative of its kind, it is rather unique. Many states (and individual experts) have discussed the growing influence USA online sportsbooks now wield through their promotional advertising and service models. The vast majority of public officials and analysts would agree their power is becoming outsized—dangerous, even. 

However, few states have actively done something to address these concerns. Certainly, no state has aggressively targeted the way sports betting is marketed like SB 432. 

What was the impetus for Kansas sports betting regulators to create and deliberate this measure? Will it be passed? And what type of impact will this have on the United States’ sports betting industry at large if it does go through? These are just a few of the questions being asked about a piece of legislation that, when all’s said and done, could mark a seismic shift for sports betting in Kansas—and the rest of the USA.

Here’s Why Action is Being Taken to Restrict Kansas Sports Betting Advertisements

Some of the language in this Kansas sports betting amendment can be complicated and opaque. The gist of it is: Online sportsbooks in Kansas would effectively be unable to advertise and market their services on social media sites. 

This measure is in response to a number of troubling developments. Sports betting in Kansas launched over 18 months ago. Since then, studies have shown a significant increase in problem gambling cases. And it’s not just Kansas, either. This trend persists in pretty much every market that legalizes sports betting. It is one of the moral-hazard trade-offs policymakers concede when attempting to regulate and tax sports gambling operations. 

Typically, states will allocate a portion of their sports betting revenue to establishing problem gambling treatment. More recently, officials have started focusing on problem gambling prevention. Most of the time, this consists of bankrolling educational programs with the objective of informing minors of the risks associated with legal sports betting. The thinking is, if the issue is tackled head-on before people start gambling, it will diminish the amount of sports betting addictions. 

Still, this isn’t seen as effective enough. Access to online sports betting in Kansas and across the country is considered more problematic than a lack of information. Sports betting ads follow people everywhere. They are omnipresent during live broadcasts and at live-sporting venues. And over the past couple of years, they have become staples across all social media platforms. 

Reactions to this trend have varied. The sports betting market in Ohio has come closest to addressing it this strongly. They introduce marketing restrictions of their own in addition to proposing increased tax rates for sports betting operators. This Kansas sports gambling bill takes that concept a few steps further.

Will Senate Bill 432 be Passed?

Legislative sessions in Kansas are ongoing, so we don’t have the answer to this question yet. But there should be more clarity on it in the coming weeks.

With that said, its success feels fait accompli—which is to say, inevitable. 

Back when Kansas sports betting was first legalized, the motion required bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans. SB 432 currently checks that box. The measure is sponsored by Senator Cindy Holscher (a Democrat) and Senator Virgil Peck (a Republican). This level of bipartisan collaboration is, quite honestly, rare. That suggests SB 432 could be signed into law with sweeping approval.

Assuming the bill passes, Kansas sports betting regulators would be tasked with implementing its procedures by January 1, 2025. Also, the measure doesn’t just take aim at sportsbooks advertising on social media. It would also require top online sportsbooks in Kansas to get permission from consumers to advertise on their own website

Read that sentence again. It’s a pretty big deal. Essentially, if you sign up with a Kansas online sportsbook, you’d be given the option to see or not see promotions whenever you log on. 

Could Restrictions Placed on Kansas Sports Betting Advertisements Spread Throughout the Rest of the United States?

Coupled with fewer social media ads, policymakers believe SB 432 would curtail problem gambling. That’s a reasonable claim to make. But nothing’s assured. Not enough studies have been conducted to test the merits of this approach. And that’s largely because it’s a relatively unprecedented one. 

To that end, if SB 432 is both legalized and materially addresses Kansas sports gambling concerns, it could wind up being landmark legislation that other states adopt. In fact, we’d personally bet on this being the case. 

Even if SB 432 fails, it’s only a matter of time before more states crack down on the way sportsbooks market themselves. Their online presence is relentless, and many believe they focus their advertising on at-risk demographics (i.e. people more inclined to bet and lose large amounts). Protecting constituents against this exposure should end up being one of the least divisive topics in the political sphere. After all, these restrictions don’t end legal sports betting in the United States. They merely increase state regulation and control—which is the entire point of legalizing sports gambling operations in the first place. So it’s unlikely SB 432 or similar pieces of legislation face that much opposition.

Of course, this could change if new Kansas sports betting laws lead to a massive decrease in tax revenue. But most don’t expect these measures to leave much of a dent—a further sign that SB 432, at some point, may one day become a sports betting industry standard throughout the USA.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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