Kansas plans Sept. 1 ‘soft launch’ of sports wagering for start of football season

Efforts to legalize sports wagering in Missouri fizzled this year when a dispute over video lottery led to an impasse in the state Senate

By: - August 19, 2022 6:30 am

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson at a 2019 event in Kansas City (photo courtesy of Missouri Governor’s Office).

TOPEKA, Kansas — Sports wagering in Kansas will launch Sept. 1, state officials said Thursday, allowing bets to be placed at the start of football season.

Lawmakers in April passed legislation to greenlight sports wagering in the state under the administration of the Kansas Lottery. The action was estimated to generate revenues of up to $10 million annually within three years, with funding earmarked to fight white collar crime and attract new sports ventures.

Gov. Laura Kelly signed Senate Bill 84 in May. Lottery officials have worked with the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission and the operators of four casinos to implement sports wagering well ahead of a Jan. 1 deadline.

Stephen Durrell, executive director of the Kansas Lottery, announced the “tentative soft launch” for placing bets at noon Sept. 1, followed by a full launch Sept. 8.

“A lot of people worked very hard in a very short amount of time to make sports wagering a reality here in the state,” Durrell said in a promotional video.

The timing corresponds with the start of college and NFL football seasons. The Kansas State University football team’s first game is Sept. 3, and the Kansas City Chiefs play their first regular season game on Sept. 11.

“Legalizing sports betting is a common sense solution that keeps Kansans’ money in Kansas and drives business to sporting events, casinos, restaurants, and other entertainment venues,” the governor said. “I want to thank all our partners for working with us to get this done in time for football season.”

Missouri lawmakers have made multiple efforts in recent years to legalize sports wagering. The most recent push this year fell short when it became embroiled in a dispute over video lottery, dooming both proposals in the Missouri Senate.

The Kansas legislation allows for sports bets to be placed in casinos and on mobile apps. The four state-licensed casinos operate in Kansas City, Mulvane, Pittsburg and Dodge City. Tribal casinos are still working out deals with regulators.

State officials said operators were being granted a one-year provisional license, and the platforms that were granted contracts “will be announced soon.”

The website BetKansas.com, which describes itself as a “group of sports betting and casino experts,” identified the platforms that will be ready to launch on Sept. 1 as FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, PointsBet and BallyBet.

The Senate passed legislation to authortize sports wagering by a 21-13 vote after the House adopted it on a 73-49 vote.

“Kansans are already betting on sports,” said Sen. Jeff Pittman, a Leavenworth Democrat who voted for the bill. “Many do it on illegal platforms that take money out of the state. Sports betting is not for everyone. This is just another avenue for avid players.”

Opponents of the bill questioned its legality, how revenues would be used, and the detrimental impact of gambling.

“We will destroy people’s lives,” said Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson Republican. “We don’t know their names right now. We don’t know what they look like. But we do know that will happen.”

This story was originally published by the Kansas Reflector, a States Newsroom affiliate. 

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Sherman Smith
Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the Kansas Press Association’s journalist of the year. He has written award-winning news stories about the instability of the Kansas foster care system, misconduct by government officials, sexual abuse, technology, education, and the Legislature. He previously spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. A lifelong Kansan, he graduated from Emporia State University in 2004 as a Shepherd Scholar with a degree in English.