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Lawmakers Say Legal Sports Gaming in Kansas is Likely

The Kansas Statehouse. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)
The Kansas Statehouse. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Kansans could be placing legal bets on their favorite sports teams next year. A legislative committee met Tuesday to discuss options for sports gaming. Many states are eyeing the tax money they could gather now that a federal ban on sports betting has been knocked down.

Lawmakers on the committee believe it’s likely that Kansas will legalize sports gaming. The question is what it might look like and how much it’s taxed?

Republican Senator Bud Estes said the state must be careful to avoid too many taxes.

“If you do that, you just ensured that the illegal gambling structure will stay in place and people won’t go to the legal side of it," Estes said after the meeting.

Disagreement remains over whether the state should allow online sports gaming or restrict it to places like casinos. The committee also discussed sports betting at places such as sports bars or lottery ticket retailers.

Democratic state Representative John Carmichael wants gambling restricted to locations such as casinos. He calls gaming online or through smartphone apps a “dangerous road” that could be too easy for kids to access.

“I’m worried about kids sitting up,10 o’clock at night, gambling away,” Carmichael said during the meeting.

State-sanctioned online gaming would be a way to avoid those pitfalls, said Republican Senator Rob Olson. The state sites or apps could be regulated. Without state services, Olson said people will continue to use gaming sites based in other countries.

“I think we’re going to have to have some flexibility, because a lot of it’s going to be done online in the future,” Olson said.

The group will make recommendations for the full Legislature to consider next year.

Democratic Governor-elect Laura Kelly has also said she supports sports gaming.

Stephen Koranda has more:

Stephen Koranda is KPR's Statehouse reporter.