Though Kansas remains among the places in the United States that has yet to legalize sports betting, it looks as if that'll change real soon. And when it does, prospective sportsbook operators are hopeful they won't have to wait too long before opening up wagers to Kansas residents. In fact, the Kansas Lottery believes they can get the entire process up and running almost immediately.
Excited at the prospect of legal sports betting in Kansas? With online sports betting legalized in the USA for more than half of the states at this point, every additional state that joins the fold is a victory not only for residents there but those still in regions that won't allow it. As we've seen throughout the legal sports betting process over the years, the acceptance of it has a snowball effect. It's even at play right now in Kansas. Kansas expects to quickly implement legal sports betting in 2022 once it has the green light. This is a far cry from the stance they assumed when the legal sports betting bill, titled Senate Bill 84, was first proposed back in January of 2021.
But does the Kansas sports betting bill really have what it takes to get through the next step in the approval process. And more than that, can Kansas really accelerate the rollout to ensure legal sports betting hits the state this year?
The Next Step for Sports Betting in Kansas
The Kansas sports betting bill has now made it past two of the three most important obstacles of the legalization process.
First, it went through the House of Representatives. Then, it was passed by the Senate. Now, it's at the final step: being presented to Governor Laura Kelly for approval.
And believe it or not, this part of the process has been deemed a formality. Governor Kelly is soon expected to sign the bill into law, in large part because of the revenue Kansas stands to generate from taxes levied, but also because of the control over the market the state will enjoy with the proposed setup. We'll get into the nitty-gritty of the latter in a second, but assuming everything unfolds as planned, residents of Kansas will be free to legally wager on sports as soon as the state has all the necessary operating systems in place.
All of which begs the question: How long will that take? In most cases, it's a matter of months up to a year. Some states have taken longer, but somewhere between five and 12 months is pretty standard once the bill is signed into law. If we operate under the assumption that Governor Kelly green lights the bill by the end May, Kansas should have their sports betting infrastructure up and running anywhere between October and next spring.
But is it possible they'll have it fully operational and ready for use even sooner?
How Kansas Plans to Expedite Legal Sports Betting Rollout
Apparently, Kansas isn't too keen on waiting months for legal sports betting to go live. The fastest end of a normal timeline would have it ready after the 2022 college and NFL football seasons begin. Even missing a few weeks' worth of games in both sectors stands to cost them a lot of money.
Fortunately for Kansas, they have a built-in loophole. Currently, the Kansas Lottery owns and operates the rights to sports gambling in the state. It's very rare that it happens, but because the Kansas Lottery already has an online presence in the state, it's not expected to take them that long to set up sports betting infrastructure. With the help of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, many believe the timeline to roll out legal sports betting can be pared down to weeks rather than months, ensuring residents in Kansas cannot only place bets by the start of football season but that they can enjoy gameplay by the beginning of the NHL Stanley Cup or NBA Finals.
This isn't meant to imply that Kansas won't have other roadblocks to clear. Some of the finer details within the sports betting bill will need to be hammered out after it's approved, and the Kansas Lottery can't actually run the entire sports-betting ecosystem on its own.
Look for the Kansas Lottery to Link Up with Major Online Sportsbooks
To guarantee a smooth rollout, the Kansas Lottery is expected to solicit the help of major online sportsbooks. Where many other states are handing out licenses directly and running every part of the search, this setup is unique in that sportsbook operators must go through the Kansas Lottery to acquire their license and rights to accept wagers.
What remains to be seen is how the fees for sportsbook operators will play out. Kansas will have a standard tax for all sportsbooks, but the latter will also need to pay for the right to work through and with the Kansas Lottery. That has left many thinking the Kansas market could wind up being barren of interest from corporate sportsbooks.
Personally, we're not particularly worried. Pretty much everyone expects the bigwigs like DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, etc. to play ball. Kansas may be a relatively small sports betting market, but it's still projected to bring in nine figures of gambling revenue—which is the amount placed in bets before accounting for payouts and taxes—on an annual basis. Beyond that, Kansas also plans to use part of the profit it turns off sports betting to help reel in another professional sports team, and sportsbook operators will no doubt have interest in getting on the ground floor of an expanding market.
So when it comes to the question of whether Kansas can accelerate the installment of legal sports betting, we're inclined to ask another: Have you checked out our reviews of the top online sportsbooks? Because from the sound of things, if you live or plan to place bets in Kansas, you're going to need a good online sportsbook—and soon.
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