Located in America’s heartland, Kansas played a central role in 19th-century Old West gambling. But by the 20th century, the legends of Dodge City had faded, and the state became considerably less gambling-friendly.
However, starting in the 1990s, the state’s first tribal casinos opened, and since then four commercial casinos have opened to provide still more gambling options for Kansans.
Online gambling remains illegal in the state, with neither real money online casinos nor online poker allowed. That said, Kansas does permit certain forms of online gambling, including horse betting. Here’s an overview of gambling in Kansas, including the state’s gambling history and consideration of whether online casinos may one day come to the Sunflower State.
Can you gamble online in Kansas?
Yes and no. As is the case in a lot of states, Kansas includes online gambling among other forms of gambling that it prohibits. There are a few ways Kansans can still gamble online, however.
Daily fantasy sports contests are legal in Kansas. In fact, Kansas is one of the states that has explicitly passed legislation making wagering on daily fantasy sports legal, having done so in 2015. That means DFS players in Kansas can participate in online contests hosted by sites like DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo Fantasy Sports and FantasyDraft.
Pari-mutuel wagering on horse races is legal in Kansas, as is off-track betting, although there are no active horse racetracks or OTB parlors in the state. However, people in Kansas can wager on horse races via online sites like TVG and TwinSpires.
There are also several sweepstakes-based online gambling sites and social casino sites accept players from Kansas. Rather than use real money, sweepstakes and social casino sites use a virtual currency in their games. They act and look like the real money casino and poker sites you see in states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. Legal alternative options that serve Kansas players include social casino sites like Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Slots and sweepstakes sites like Funzpoints. There are similar online poker sites that do so, as well, the most popular of which is Global Poker.
Are online casinos legal in Kansas?
The state’s current gambling law includes a prohibition making it illegal “to play a gambling device.” So again the short answer is no, online casinos are not legal in Kansas.
Interestingly, in 2013, a gambling expansion bill included an amendment that explicitly banned internet gambling, making it a misdemeanor worthy of up to six months prison time and a $1,000 fine. Legislators approved adding the amendment, though the ones who voted against it pointed out that the current law already made online gambling illegal. (The bill, along with the amendment, failed to pass.)
If you want to play online slots, there are sweepstakes and social casinos that accept Kansas players as noted earlier. The games on these sites are not the same as those you find at Kansas retail casinos, but they are wholly similar and include slots titles like Lucky Emeralds and Hypernova along with blackjack and roulette.
Can you play online poker in Kansas?
No, you cannot legally play online poker for real money in Kansas. You will find so-called “offshore” online sites (discussed further below) that invite poker players from Kansas to play on them. But these sites are not legal in Kansas. The only legal online poker option Kansas players have is to play on sweepstake sites such as Global Poker.
Will Kansas regulate online gambling in the future?
It is hard to say whether or when Kansas will join other states that have expanded into legal online gambling such as casino and poker sites. The likelihood appears somewhat dim at present, though, and likely also for the near future.
Lawmakers are currently discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting in Kansas. In fact, some have proposed bills that include the possibility of online sportsbooks in addition to retail ones in the state’s casinos. However, none of those bills would authorize other forms of online gambling.
In short, do not expect Kansas to legalize online casinos any time soon, and certainly not before sports betting becomes legal, should that come to pass.
Legal online gambling in Kansas
You might find certain online gambling sites advertising themselves as being available or even “legal” to players in Kansas, but that isn’t actually true. These are sites that accept deposits from Kansas players and allow them to gamble in their games, but the sites are not licensed by the state. In fact, they are not even based inside the US.
As such, these offshore sites do not abide by US or Kansas laws. Let’s say a player in Kansas runs into difficulties while playing on one of these sites. The player might have a problem with funds the player has deposited or suspect fraud or other improprieties with the games. That player has no legal recourse since the site is not beholden to US or Kansas law.
All of which is to say that depositing money and playing on such sites from Kansas is not worth it. Casino games already involve a certain degree of risk. There’s no need to introduce still more risk by playing and gambling on these offshore sites.
Who regulates gambling in Kansas?
There’s no one answer to this question. In fact, Kansas makes things a little complicated. The Kansas Lottery oversees the games at the state’s commercial casinos, while the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission regulates gambling at those properties. Current legislative discussions to introduce sports betting propose a similar arrangement whereby the Kansas Lottery would offer it, and the commission would regulate it.
The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission also oversees pari-mutuel wagering in the state such as on horse racing. Meanwhile, the Kansas Department of Revenue oversees the regulation, licensing and taxing of bingo halls in the state.
What is the legal gambling age in Kansas?
In Kansas, you have to be at least 18 years old to play the lottery or take part in bingo, raffles or daily fantasy sports. However, the minimum age to gamble in one of the state’s commercial or tribal casinos is 21.
Types of legal gambling in Kansas
There are a number of legal gambling options in Kansas, not the least of which is casino gambling. Here are the gambling options legally available in Kansas:
- Horse betting
- Charitable gambling
The state-run Kansas Lottery first began selling tickets in 1987. Kansas lawmakers also explicitly legalized daily fantasy sports in 2015. Kansas additionally allows certain forms of charitable gambling like bingo and raffles.
Are there casinos in Kansas?
Yes, Kansas has four commercial casinos and five tribal casinos with Class III gaming, plus a sixth that offers Class II gaming. The tribal casinos launched in the state first. The first tribal-state gaming compacts were established in 1995, and the following year the first tribal casino opened.
|Property||Location||Owner / Manager|
|7th Street Casino||Kansas City||Wyandotte Nation|
|Boot Hill Casino & Resort||Dodge City||Kansas Lottery / Boot Hill Gaming|
|Casino White Cloud||Doniphan||Iowa Tribe|
|Golden Eagle Casino||Horton||Kickapoo Tribe|
|Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway||Kansas City||Kansas Lottery / Penn National Gaming|
|Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel||Pittsburg||Kansas Lottery / Peninsula Pacific Entertainment|
|Kansas Star Casino||Mulvane||Kansas Lottery / Boyd Gaming|
|Prairie Band Casino & Resort||Mayetta||Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation|
|Sac and Fox Casino||Powhattan||Sac & Fox Nation|
In 2007, the state passed the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act, which among its provisions authorized the construction of four commercial casinos. Each casino would operate in a different “gaming zone” around the state. Voters in each of these areas additionally had to approve the building of the casinos. One Kansas county’s district court ruled the legislation unconstitutional, but in 2008 the Kansas Supreme Court heard an appeal and ruled otherwise, upholding the act. The first commercial casino opened in 2009, and the fourth and last one opened in 2017.
KELA allows private companies to build and manage the commercial casinos. However, the Kansas Lottery serves as the operator. Indeed, the casinos are technically designated as “lottery gaming facilities.” Kansas is the only state in the country with such an arrangement. Here’s a quick look at the state’s four commercial casinos:
Boot Hill Casino & Resort
- Address: 4000 West Comanche Ave., Dodge City, KS
- Location: Southwestern KS, about an hour from the Oklahoma border
- Phone: 877-906-0777
- Operator: Kansas Lottery (Boot Hill Gaming)
- Live poker: Yes
Located in the famed Old West town of Dodge City, the Boot Hill Casino & Resort was the state’s first commercial casino, opening in 2009. The casino features close to 700 slots and about two dozen table games, including a modest five-table poker room.
Kansas Star Casino
- Address: 777 Kansas Star Drive, Mulvane, KS
- Location: South-central KS, part of the Wichita metropolitan area
- Phone: 316-719-5000
- Operator: Kansas Lottery (Boyd Gaming)
- Live poker: No
The Kansas Star Casino opened at the end of 2011. The casino features about 1,750 slot machines and more than 50 table games. The property includes various amenities, including a 3,400-seat entertainment venue, the Kansas Star Arena.
Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway
- Address: 777 Hollywood Casino Blvd., Kansas City, KS
- Location: Eastern border of KS, right next to Missouri
- Phone: 913-288-9300
- Operator: Kansas Lottery (Penn National Gaming)
- Live poker: Yes
The Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway opened in 2012 and has proven a popular destination for fans of gambling, racing and more. The casino features nearly 100,000 square feet of space, 2,300 slots and about 60 table games, including a 12-table poker room. The adjacent racetrack hosts two NASCAR events each year and has hosted IndyCar races in the past.
Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel
- Address: 1275 S. Highway 69, Pittsburg, KS
- Location: Southeastern corner of KS near Missouri border
- Phone: 620-240-4400
- Operator: Kansas Lottery (Peninsula Pacific Entertainment)
- Live poker: No
The fourth and final commercial casino to open in Kansas, the Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel first opened its doors in April 2017. The small casino features about 625 slots and 14 table games.
Types of games at Kansas casinos
Both the commercial casinos and tribal casinos in Kansas offer an array of games. The tribal-state compacts allow the Kansas-based tribes to offer Class III gambling. That means they can offer traditional slots and table games, much like the commercial casinos do. Those visiting Kansas casinos will find the following games:
- Video poker
- Casino poker (e.g., Pai Gow, Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, Three Card Poker)
Tribal casinos in Kansas
There are five Class III tribal casinos in Kansas. In addition, a new Class II facility opened in early 2021. Four Kansas-based tribes each operate a casino in the state. Meanwhile, the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma operates both the 7th Street Casino in Kansas City and the new Class II Crosswinds Casino in Park City.
The four Kansas tribes that operate Class III casinos in the state are:
- Iowa Tribe (Casino White Cloud)
- Kickapoo Tribe (Golden Eagle Casino)
- Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (Prairie Band Casino & Resort)
- Sac & Fox Nation (Sac & Fox Casino)
The Prairie Band Casino & Resort in Mayetta has the most slots of any of the tribal casinos in the state, with more than 1,200. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagle Casino in Horton has the most space, with a 45,000-square-foot casino featuring around 600 slots.
Most of the tribal-owned properties are in the northeastern part of the state. As a result, they compete for business with the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The Hollywood Casino additionally competes with other casinos just over the border in Kansas City, Missouri.
Horse racing in Kansas
In 1987, Kansas voters approved a constitutional amendment to allow pari-mutuel wagering on horse and greyhound races. For a time the state had three horse racetracks and one greyhound track. However, after the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act passed in 2007, it wasn’t long before all of the state’s racetracks closed.
The new law did allow the tracks to add slot machines, but at a much higher tax rate than what the new commercial casinos enjoyed. Some of the more recent discussions over whether to legalize sports betting have included consideration of involving the now dormant racetracks. If the racetracks were allowed to add sportsbooks, it could potentially help them to reopen. One amendment to a 2020 bill included a provision to lower the tax rate on slots for racetracks to the same level as the casinos’ rate, but it failed.
Off-track betting on horse races also is legal in the state, although there are no OTB parlors that simulcast races. Kansas does allow advance deposit wagering on horse races on online sites such as TVG and TwinSpires, with a minimum age of 18 to do so.
Responsible gambling in Kansas
Kansas has several programs and resources available to those seeking information about responsible gambling and/or help or treatment options for problem gambling.
The Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling website collects information and links to various other responsible gambling organizations, both in-state and national. These include checklists and other guides to diagnosing yourself or loved ones to assess whether gambling has become a problem. The site also offers concrete advice about how to prevent problem gambling. There is information as well about training programs and conferences for professionals and about the latest research into problem gambling.
The Department of Aging and Disability Services, a state agency, also offers support and treatment of problem gambling along with alcohol and drug addiction. Its services include treatment and prevention programs, counselor training and certification, and more.
Kansas residents can additionally receive help via numerous national organizations, including the National Council on Problem Gambling or by calling the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700. Other groups like Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon also provide support and assistance to problem gamblers and their friends and families.
History of gambling in Kansas
Kansas featured prominently in Old West gambling stories, particularly ones from Dodge City involving figures like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. There were gambling dens all over the state then, though by the 20th century most forms of gambling were illegal in the state. Indeed, the Kansas Constitution explicitly prohibited all lotteries and casino-style gambling, although illegal gambling persisted in various forms.
Later in the 1900s, Kansas began gradually to allow certain forms of legal gambling. Here are some key dates from this latter part of Kansas gambling history:
- 1974: Kansas voters approve an amendment authorizing charitable organizations to host bingo games.
- 1986: The new Kansas Lottery receives a favorable nod from voters, and the following year Kansas sells its first lottery tickets. Kansas joins five other states and Washington, DC, to form the Multi-State Lottery Association.
- 1987: One year after voters voice their approval, the state’s Legislature passes the Kansas Pari-Mutuel Racing Act. Shortly after that, the state’s first horse and greyhound racetracks open.
- 1995: The first tribal-state gaming compacts between Kansas and four federally recognized tribes receive approval. The following year the first tribal casino opens: the Golden Eagle Casino operated by the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe.
- 2007: The Kansas Expanded Lottery Act becomes law, and in 2008 withstands its last legal challenge thanks to a favorable Kansas Supreme Court ruling. The new law authorizes four commercial casinos in different areas of the state. The first opened in 2009 and the fourth and final one in 2017.