Kansas House unveils sports gambling plan with support from casinos, greyhound industry opposition

TOPEKA — The Kansas House on Tuesday unveiled a plan to legalize sports betting in Kansas through online platforms and bets placed at casinos, convenience stores and racetracks.

House Bill 2740 enjoys broad support from gambling interests who have argued for years over who controls the action and how to split the revenue.

“I never thought this day would come here,” said Rep. John Barker, a Republican from Abilene and chairman of the Federal-State Affairs Committee.

The committee heard testimony in support of the bill from three state casinos, a tribal casino, the Sporting Kanas City football team and a lobbyist for the billionaire Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, who for years tried to resurrect operations from his now closed Sedgwick. Departmental racecourse. The only opponents to testify were concerned about restrictions on greyhound racing.

Animal rights and gambling addiction organizations have expressed concern while asking that their testimony be considered neutral.

The bill authorizes sports gambling by allowing the Kansas Lottery to enter into contracts with operators of gambling establishments. These managers could offer betting via websites, interactive mobile apps and on-site. The legislation also allows betting on machines at Ruffin facilities, but it prohibits machines at greyhound racing.

The state would get 20% of its revenue from online gambling and 14% from in-person betting. Whitney Damron, lobbyist for Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, said revenue estimates suggest the state could receive $50 million in annual revenue. An official tax rating has yet to be 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 naming Ruffin and raising concerns about his influence on the bill.

“It’s like letting a McDonalds franchise owner write the laws about what other fast food businesses are allowed to operate in the state,” Gartland said.

O’Neil said the bill’s provisions dealing with greyhounds are not relevant to sports betting.

O’Neil also asked lawmakers not to pass judgment on greyhounds unless they have the opportunity to tour a facility.

“Believe me,” O’Neil said, “if there was such a thing as reincarnation, I would want to come back as a Kansas Greyhound. They are the cutest athletes you will ever meet.

Barker said the committee would review the amendments and take action on the bill next week. If the House were to pass the bill, Representatives would have to strike a deal with senators who passed a competing bill last year.

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