Sports fans who want to bet on their favorite teams should be able to make their wagers in Kansas beginning Sept. 1 if some final regulatory details are worked out, state officials announced Thursday.
The four state-owned casinos in Kansas will have a tentative “soft launch” of sports betting at noon Sept. 1, with an official launch on Sept. 8, Kansas Lottery executive director Stephen Durrell said in a video announcement.
Durrell said several regulatory and administrative hurdles remained to make the launch a reality “but we’re hopeful we can get there.”
After years of debate, the Kansas Legislature approved legalized sports betting this spring and Gov. Laura Kelly signed the law in May. The Kansas Gaming and Racing Commission approved sports betting regulations last week.
Kelly said casinos in Dodge City, Mulvane, Pittsburg and Kansas City, Kansas, are being granted one-year provisional licenses under temporary rules and regulations to begin accepting bets.
State officials have said they hoped to have legalized gambling available in time for the first NFL football game on Sept. 8.
The law allows people to use cellphones or computer apps to bet on sporting events at the four casinos or up to 50 other locations chosen by each casino. Betting in fantasy sports leagues already was legal.
Tribal casinos are working with state officials on contracts and will be allowed to begin accepting sports bets “as soon as they are ready,” Kelly said.
A spokesman for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the office has identified “significant legal issues” with regulations proposed by the Kansas Lottery. The office typically reviews proposed regulations to ensure they do not conflict with any statutory or other legal requirements.
Spokesman John Milburn said in a news release that the office is “aware of the urgency” of the matter and has expedited and nearly completed its initial review of the Lottery's proposed regulations. He did not elaborate on the potential problems.
The office will provide feedback to Lottery “within days” and give the agency the opportunity to correct the legal problems.
"We intend to approve these regulations as soon as the agency fixes the legal problems in their initial version,” Milburn said.
The law imposed a 10% state tax on the bets, with a majority of the expected revenue — perhaps $5 million a year — dedicated to efforts to lure the Kansas City Chiefs from Missouri to Kansas.
“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,” Kelly said. “I want to thank all our partners for working with us to get this done in time for football season.”
The Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane sued the state over a provision in the new law that would allow new gambling devices at the nearby Wichita Greyhound Park in an effort to revive the track that closed in 2007.
The casino argues the state is breaching its contract, which says the lottery will not permit competition from similar facilities in the Wichita area. The lawsuit is pending in Shawnee County and the state is seeking to have it dismissed.
Margaret Stafford, The Associated Press