Kansas lawmakers weigh bringing sports betting to state
By MITCHELL WILLETTS
Mar. 14, 2018
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers are considering bringing sports betting to the state, but even with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in wagering on the line, not everyone is on board.
The House Federal and State Affairs Committee had a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would allow the Kansas Lottery to offer sports betting in state-owned casinos, over the internet and with mobile apps.
The bill is a response to a U.S. Supreme Court case in which New Jersey is trying to overturn a federal law banning sports betting in all but four states where it's legal: Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. The rest of the nation could follow if the court rules in New Jersey's favor.
Whitney Damron, a lobbyist for the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, said online betting and wagering with apps should not be allowed, limiting the new gambling to "brick-and-mortar" locations to promote foot traffic. In Kansas, the state lottery has four casinos, contracting with private companies to run them.
Bryan Seeley, a Major League Baseball senior vice president, said if the bill does pass, the league would want a share of the profits and betting available on mobile devices. It also would want casinos to share sports betting data with the league to help identify suspicious trends where illegal activity could be occurring.
MLB is neutral on the bill. Seeley said the league is against sports betting, but that if the people want it, the league deserves the right to protect its product how it sees fit.
"It's not simply about whether we get a share of the profits, although we think that is appropriate," Seeley said. "But there are a host of provisions it is important to put into place to protect the integrity of the game."
In the Supreme Court case, MLB, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League have fought New Jersey, arguing that expanding gambling would hurt the integrity of their games.
The Kansas Lottery has no estimate yet for how much the state could take in from legal sports betting.
The American Gaming Association estimates that $1.3 billion a year is bet illegally on sports in Kansas. A recent Moody's Investors Service report called the legal sports betting take "fairly slim" overall and estimated that in New Jersey, it initially could bring in $108 million.
Damron said the 1 percent cut that professional baseball and other sports leagues want is just too high because profit margins on sports betting are thin to begin with.
"Sports betting is not going to be a big moneymaker," Damron said.