When governor Laura Kelly signed a bill into law for Kansas legal sports betting, the most optimistic projections had the state officially rolling it out near the end of 2022. As it turns out, though, that timeline is on track to not just be beaten, but it will be absolutely obliterated. The latest word coming out of the state is that legal sports betting in Kansas will be available in time for residents to invest in odds on the 2022 NFL season.
This is, in no uncertain terms, a huge development. Under the previous timeline, experts had Kansas setting up legal sports betting right around the start of the NFL playoffs—at the absolutely earliest. If residents wanted to bet on the NFL or bet on college football from the jump, they would've needed to look for offshore sportsbook operators to accept their bets. In theory, that's not an issue. Our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, for instance, feature a who's who of reliable linemakers willing to accept wagers from various parts of the USA.
Now, however, prospective bettors needn't worry about potentially having limited or no access to sportsbooks at large. They will be able to bet freely and often, both online and in-person, from Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.
What does this mean for the state of Kansas overall? And at a time when many states, such as Texas and Florida, are struggling to legalize sports betting in general, why was Kansas intent on beating their initial timeline? We've researched the answers to all the important questions.
Why Kansas Pushed for Faster Legal Sports Betting Timeline
There's no mystery as to why Kansas pushed to move up the rollout of legal sports betting. They saw an opportunity to capitalize on a lucrative start to their sports betting campaign, and now they're trying to seize it.
We're referring, of course, to the start of the NFL season. Not only do people in Kansas have a vested interest in the Kansas City Chiefs (more on them in a minute) despite their playing out of state in Kansas City, Missouri, but the opening week of the NFL calendar is always the most profitable aside from the lead-up to the Super Bowl.
Just consider the year-over-year growth in betting on NFL Week 1 football from this past season. Back in 2020, around 25.8 million total bets were placed during the opening week, between Thursday and Monday. This past season, in 2021, the total number of bets placed during this same window mushroomed to 58.2 million—a 126 percent year-over-year increase.
Without question, this uptick is owed in large part to the growing number of places in the United States to legalize sports betting. But that's sort of the point. Legal sports betting in the USA has never seen a more robust market. Over half of the country has now legalized sports betting. Kansas, in fact, is set to become the 31st state to green-light sports wagering in some form.
Experts everywhere are now expecting even larger opening-week numbers for the NFL this year as a result. Kansas wanted to join that fold rather than debut legal sports betting around the playoffs. And that makes sense. This new timeline not only ensures their rollout of legal sports betting will begin with a boom, but they will move up their newest source of tax revenue by an entire quarter.
Kansas Legal Sports Betting Could Be More Lucrative Than Expected
Early estimates have Kansas raking in $10 million of pure profit during their inaugural year of sports betting. If that number seems low, take another look at the terms. Kansas is set to assess a 10 percent tax on all sports betting profits. This means sportsbooks are projected to make $100 million after paying out all the winning bets they accept. So, in reality, sports betting in Kansas is a nine-figure-per-year industry. And it might even be worth more than that.
Another reason Kansas became bent on having their sports betting infrastructure up and running to start the NFL season is Missouri's decision to nix plans for their own legal sports betting rollout. They recently opposed a bill that would've okayed sports gambling in the immediate future and will now be without an opportunity to reverse this move for at least another year.
Given Kansas' proximity to Missouri, they are clearly hoping residents of the latter will make the trek inside their state lines to place wagers. And that's a great bet to make on Kansas' part. Football is a religion throughout Missouri. At the very least, there will be those who travel into Kansas so they can place bets on not only the Kansas City Chiefs, but also Missouri's handful of flagship college football programs.
If your first inclination is to shrug this off, we urge you not to. Bets from out-of-state residents can be worth tens of millions of dollars in total wagers placed in Kansas over the next year. That, in turn, amounts to millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars in extra tax revenue.
To be clear: This is not the sole reason Kansas accelerated their sports betting timeline. That was more about capitalizing on in-state residents investing in NFL odds and college football odds more than anything else. But regardless of why Kansas is dead set on officially rolling out sports betting, both online and in-person, the end result doesn't change: They're about to make a whooooole lot of money.
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