TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Kansas lawmakers took final action on a plan to legalize sports betting, after an overnight session, extending into early Friday morning.
The Senate voted to pass SB84 with 21 lawmakers voting in favor and 13 against after the House signed off on the latest changes to the plan. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
Supporters of the bill are hoping to bring new opportunities to the state, setting aside money to attract professional sports teams in the state. This comes as there’s been talks of a potential Kansas City Chiefs move.
“If you had a football team in western Wyandotte County, how many places would have a football team, a world-class soccer team, casino, a speedway, and all the shopping amenities, and minor league baseball in just that geographical area,” said Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, who chairs the Senate Fed and State Committee.
Sen. Olson carried the bill on the Senate floor, doubling down on defending the benefits of implementing the bill, despite pushback from other members of his party.
Olson told Kansas Capitol Bureau that with major sports teams, national sporting events could follow.
“That would be the kind of destination that would have a Super Bowl, and when you have a Super Bowl, all the money that would be spent in that local area. It would generate a lot,” Olson said.
Kansas would join 31 other states that have passed similar legislation.
However, this comes at a critical moment for lawmakers, where all eyes are on whether Kansas could potentially lure the Chiefs to cross the state line.
Eighty percent of the state’s tax revenue from sports wagering could go to building a new stadium for the team.
The bill would also allow people to cash in on major sporting events, placing bets on their phones or at casinos.
The issue has divided Republicans. Some argue that the bill would generate little revenue for the state in its current form.
Others also expressed concerns over the bill impacting people that suffer from gambling addiction.
“The reality is we’re recruiting new gamblers. They will have addiction problems. We will destroy lives with this bill,” said Sen. Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson.