TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Kansas gaming regulators are moving forward with sports betting plans. Still, an official start date for wagering in Kansas is “unknown,” according to Lottery officials.
The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) approved a set of temporary regulations on Friday, with the intent of setting permanent regulations later on.
During the meeting, David Moses, Chair of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, said they “don’t want to be a hold up” to sports wagering in Kansas. Some are hoping to get betting started by football season.
“There’s a lot of moving parts, and I know a lot of people are hoping that happens, but the Racing and Gaming Commission has done what they need to do to make sure they’re not delaying the starting,” Moses said in an interview Friday. “This was something that the Legislature passed late in the session, and the amount of work that’s being done by a number of agencies, including our Commission… we’ve done what we need to do, and I’m sure everybody else is doing what they need to do to get this done.”
The temporary regulations are now headed to the Attorney General’s Office for review.
Moses said they’re “on target” to have everything done, but the ball is now in the Kansas Lottery’s court. He said the most important part is negotiating contracts with casinos. For some, football season, which starts Sept. 8, has been a target date. This would give state agencies just a few weeks to get everything in place.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, who’s up for re-election this year, has also pushed for an NFL season start date. In an interview, during her stop at Sporting KC Thursday, the governor said the “goal” is to get sports betting started by football season.
“That’s what we’re hoping for, it could be longer, but that’s our goal to get it up and running by football season,” Kelly said.
However, in an interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau on Friday, Kansas Lottery Executive Director, Stephen Durrell, said their goal is to “make sure it works” before they launch.
“We never sort of said by a specific date that we want to get it out by. We just want to make sure that it works before we launch it and that’s still our primary goal, so we’re hopeful that we’re going to get it done soon.”
As of now, Durrell said the official start date is “unknown.” He said the Lottery is “finalizing contract amendments.” He said negotiations also include making sure all of the terms in the agreement are in line with statute and define a clear owner-operator stance.
“To make sure that the owner-operator stance and the mandated stance of the state…the state owns and operates all of the gaming in the state, we own the traditional lottery, we own the games that the four casinos that are going to operate sports wagering, we own the sports book itself, so we have to make sure that those terms are clear in there” Durrell explained. “We’re just going back and forth on language, but I think we’re very close on a final draft and those will be back out to the casinos hopefully very soon.”
Durrell said the speed at which the state is moving to get this done is ‘remarkable,’ considering when the state’s sports betting legislation was approved.
“There’s some states that have passed sports wagering, that still don’t have it up and operating and that’s been for several years,” Durrell said. “The state passed this thing in May of this year, and for us to get it done or be as close to getting it done by this point is pretty ‘remarkable’ all things considered.”
Some casino officials are also hoping for an upcoming start date. Rick Skinner, Vice President and General Manager of Hollywood Casino & Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, said he’s “optimistic” about meeting an NFL season start date.
“I remain very optimistic… I mean there’s still work to be done, but that’s our goal. And we have a great opportunity here,” Skinner said.