Launch of Kansas sports betting spotlights Chiefs, other pro sports teams and colleges

·3 min read
Khadejeh Nikouyeh/Knikouyeh@charlotteobserver.com

Now that a launch date has been set for legal sports wagering in Kansas — Sept. 1 — what does this mean for pro and college teams in the state ... and just on the other side of the Kansas-Missouri state line?

More than a rooting interest by fans of their favorite teams, for starters.

With a few bucks on the line, a follower of the Chiefs, Royals, Sporting KC, Kansas Jayhawks, K-State Wildcats and Wichita State Shockers will have an additional investment in games those teams play.

The above-mentioned teams are all for generating more interest, and although legal wagering will be separated by the aforementioned state line, the Royals and Chiefs believe sports betting will eventually be available in Missouri, too.

“We believe that responsibly regulated sports betting can bring exciting new ways to engage our fans on both sides of the state line,” said Adam Sachs, senior vice president/chief legal officer for the Royals.

“We welcome the progress in Kansas and remain hopeful that Missouri will join the growing and now majority of states to pass comparable legislation soon.”

During the NFL Draft in April, Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt was eager to see sports wagering legalized in the region.

“We’re very supportive of legalized sports betting,” Hunt said last week. “We know illegal sports betting has been going on for a long time and so we think it’s best that it comes out into the light where it can be regulated in an appropriate way.”

In a statement Thursday, the Chiefs said they’ll continue to work with Missouri lawmakers to bring sports wagering to the state.

“We are pleased to see sports betting legislation pass in...Kansas. Our research has shown that many fans want sports wagering as an option to enhance to their experience,” according to the statement. “We are actively working with experts in the sports betting space to provide our Kansas-based fans the best wagering experience possible prior to the start of the season.

“We have spent a significant amount of time advocating for similar legislation to pass in...Missouri and hope that all parties can work together to move forward when the Missouri Legislature returns in a few months.”

Kansas Governor. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that Kansas would begin allowing bets in person and via mobile apps on Sept. 1 at four state-owned casinos. Sports betting in Kansas will be overseen by the Kansas Lottery. Sports betting will officially open fully on Sept. 8, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Those dates fit nicely with the pro and college football seasons. The first NFL game is scheduled for Sept. 8. The Chiefs open their season on Sept. 11 at the Arizona Cardinals.

Some 16 college football games — include the University of Missouri’s season opener in Columbia — are scheduled for Sept. 1. Kansas opens on Sept. 2, and K-State plays the next day — Sept. 3.

Legalized sports wagering in a majority of the nation’s states represents an about-face for America’s pro leagues and colleges. The pros once believed widespread gambling would damage the integrity of sports. NFL players were once prohibited from appearing at events sponsored by casinos.

With a history of game-fixing in basketball, colleges were even more adamant in their anti-gambling stance.

Until recent years, sports wagering capital Las Vegas lacked a professional team. Now, it’s home to the NFL’s Raiders and NHL’s Golden Knights, not to mention several college basketball tournaments.

The legal catalyst for change occurred in 2018, when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, which prohibited sports gambling in most states.

More than 30 states have passed sports wagering legislation since since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision. Kansas is the latest to launch.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may have a gambling problem and need help, call 800-522-4700 or visit ksgamblinghelp.com.