TOPEKA, Kan.(KSNW) – Kansas lawmakers are considering legislation to bring sports betting to the state.
Under House Bill 2752, sports betting would be allowed at the four state owned casinos. Betting would also be allowed through online platforms.
Two informational hearings on the topic were held the same day the NCAA tournament tipped off in Wichita.
The American Gaming Association predicts $10 billion dollars will be bet on games throughout the tournament, but only three percent of betting is expected to be done legally.
Under federal law, sports betting is legal in four states; Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. However, a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court could legalize it nationwide.
“We believe the Kansas Lottery should regulate sports wagering. We believe it ought to be done through brick-and-mortar facilities,” said Hollywood Casino Lobbyist Whitney Damron. “Certainly right now, as the NCAA tournament begins, people are very fascinated by that, they would enjoy sitting out in a lounge watching TVs and placing all kinds of bets,” said Damron.
A representative for Major League Baseball testified at the hearings and said while the MLB is neutral on the legislation, the league does have concerns.
“The outcome of the game is certainly hard to manipulate, but the outcome of what will the first pitch be of the fourth inning is much more easy to manipulate by an umpire, by a pitcher, and those are the kind of bets we worry about,” said Bryan Seeley
Seeley said the league would also want to share in the profits.
“For us, it’s not simply about whether we get a share of the profits, although we think that is appropriate given the billions of dollars we spend to put on the games,” Seeley said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said there are many factors to consider before moving forward with any legislation.
“It sounds simple, but it’s a very complicated issue, who we authorize to do it would be a big issue,” said state Rep. Vic Miller, D-Topeka.
“I think there are a lot of concerns and we have to ask a lot of questions and get as much information as we can before we start to address this issue,” added State Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, R-Baxter Springs.
If Kansas did legalize sports betting, it would not take effect unless the Supreme Court ruled it could take place nationwide. The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected to come later this year.