Rep. John Barker says the House Federal and State Affairs Committee will take action next week on a bill authorizing sports wagering in Kansas. (Jan. 10, 2022, photo by Noah Taborda/Kansas Reflector)
Proposal supported by casinos, opposed by greyhound industry
By SHERMAN SMITH
TOPEKA — The Kansas House
unveiled Tuesday a plan for legalizing sports wagering in Kansas through
online platforms and bets placed at casinos, convenience stores and
House Bill 2740
has widespread support from gaming interests that have squabbled for
years over who gets to control the action and how to slice up the
“I never thought this day would get here,” said Rep. John Barker, an
Abilene Republican and chairman of the Federal and State Affairs
The committee heard testimony in support of the bill from three state
casinos, a tribal casino, the Sporting Kanas City soccer team and a
lobbyist for billionaire Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, who for
years has tried to resurrect operations at his now-closed Sedgwick
County horse track. The only opponents to offer testimony were concerned
by restrictions placed on greyhound racing.
Animal rights and gambling addiction organizations expressed concerns while asking for their testimony to be considered neutral.
The bill authorizes sports gambling by allowing the Kansas Lottery to
contract with gaming facility managers. Those managers could offer
wagering through websites, interactive mobile applications and on site.
The legislation also allows wagering on machines at Ruffin’s facility,
but it bans machines at greyhound races.
The state would get 20% of revenue through online gambling and 14%
from in-person bets. Whitney Damron, a lobbyist for Hollywood Casino at
the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, said revenue estimates
suggest the state could receive $50 million in annual revenue. An
official fiscal note has not yet been determined for the new House bill.
Jim Gartland, executive director of the National Greyhound
Association, and Mike O’Neil, representing the Kansas Greyhound
Association, submitted written testimony that named Ruffin and raised
concerns about his influence on the bill.
“This is akin to letting a McDonalds franchise owner write the laws
on what other fast food companies are allowed to be operated in the
state,” Gartland said.
O’Neil said provisions of the bill dealing with greyhounds are not germane to the subject of sports betting.
O’Neil also asked that lawmakers not make judgments about greyhounds unless they have the opportunity to tour a facility.
“Believe me,” O’Neil said, “if there were such a thing as
reincarnation, I’d want to come back as a Kansas greyhound. They’re the
sweetest athletes you’ll ever meet.”
Barker said the committee would consider amendments and take action
on the bill next week. If the House were to adopt the legislation,
representatives would have to work out a deal …….