Kansas is a heartland hotbed of sports where fans enthusiastically back several college and nearby pro teams. However, Kansas has yet to join the list of states to offer legal sports betting, despite significant support from lawmakers over recent years.
In early 2020, the Kansas Senate passed a bill that would have legalized sports betting at the state’s four commercial casinos. The House was supportive as well, and even though Gov. Laura Kelly expressed opposition, lawmakers likely had the votes to avoid a veto. Alas, the COVID-19 pandemic ended that year’s legislative session early, and the bill progressed no further. In 2021, prospects appeared promising again but nothing came of it, meaning Kansans will likely have to wait at least another year for sports betting to come to the state.
Here’s an overview of sports betting in Kansas, looking at these recent legislative efforts and considering what may come in the future, including what legal sports betting might look like in the Sunflower State.
Is sports betting legal in Kansas?
No, sports betting is not legal in Kansas at present. You cannot bet on sports at any of the state’s four commercial casinos or five tribal casinos, or anywhere else in Kansas.
Does Kansas have legal online sportsbooks?
No, Kansas does not have any legal and licensed online sportsbooks. An internet search of “legal online sports betting in Kansas” may in fact turn up various sites advertising themselves as willing to accept deposits and wagers from Kansas residents. These sites all operate outside of the US, however, and thus operate without any regard to Kansas gambling law.
Sports bettors in Kansas who deposit at these “offshore” sports betting sites in order to place sports bets are therefore taking a risk. If they encounter any problems with their funds or suspect any fraudulent activity concerning their accounts, they have no legal recourse. Even a simple dispute over how the sportsbook grades a bet might prove problematic since there’s no guarantee the site will respond to bettors’ queries.
Betting on a legal, regulated site is much more preferable. It may eventually come to Kansas. With legal sites, bettors are protected against fraud and can rest assured their accounts are secure. So be patient, and wait for Kansas to move forward on legal sports betting. It’s not worth the risk otherwise.
When will Kansas regulate sports betting?
It’s hard to say, but there is hope. Kansas lawmakers failed to pass a sports betting bill in 2021 before their session adjourned in May. That means the earliest that legislation could pass in Kansas would be in 2022. If that happens, it might be late 2022 or even 2023 before the state has sports betting regulations and Kansas sportsbooks could go live.
In late January 2021, a Senate committee sponsored SB 84. After some initial hearings, that bill was replaced with a substitute bill in March. The bill received a favorable Senate vote of 26-12 and subsequently went to the House.
The bill was similar to one the Senate had passed the year before. It allowed each of the state’s four commercial casinos to open retail casinos and also for each of them to partner with up to three online sportsbooks. Additionally, both the Kansas Speedway and Children’s Mercy Park (home of the Sporting Kansas City MLS franchise) could partner with online sportsbooks. The bill additionally included stipulations that would allow the state’s federally recognized tribes to renegotiate their compacts to allow them to offer sports betting.
The bill then underwent substantial alterations in the House. One change was to add a provision allowing the state lottery to partner with an online sportsbook, and for the state’s 1,200 lottery retailers to accept sports wagers on lottery machines. But the House voted against the bill by a 77-40 margin, and the legislative session ended in May without sports betting receiving any more consideration.
Kansas lawmakers have been talking about legalizing sports betting since even before May 2018 when the US Supreme Court lifted the federal prohibition on states other than Nevada being able to offer it. While Kansas has yet to legalize and regulate sports betting, the discussion remains open and lively. The fact that sports betting has significant support among current lawmakers makes it almost a certainty that legislation will continue to come up for debate going forward.
Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in Kansas?
Yes, you can. In fact, Kansas lawmakers have explicitly legalized daily fantasy sports, doing so in 2015. The law permitting “fantasy sports leagues” was passed despite objections from the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, which characterized DFS as an illegal lottery.
By legalizing DFS, Kansas joined a handful of other states in which sites like DraftKings and FanDuel are legal. Other daily fantasy sports sites like Yahoo Fantasy Sports and FantasyDraft also invite Kansans to enter their contests.
Who will regulate Kansas sports betting?
The Kansas Lottery will likely oversee sports betting in the state once it becomes legal. Previous sports betting proposals have indicated that the Kansas Lottery would be the best option as it already oversees the four commercial Kansas casinos.
Which online sportsbooks could launch in Kansas?
Should Kansas legalize sports betting and allow online sportsbooks to offer a mobile option, expect to see many of the major US sportsbooks seek entry into the state. Neighbor Colorado does allow online sports betting, with a large number of online sportsbooks already operating there. Here are five of the biggest:
- DraftKings Sportsbook: The daily fantasy sports giant already accepts Kansans on its DFS site and is a major online sportsbook player in numerous US states.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: Has also emerged as a significant online sportsbook company in addition to accepting players from Kansas in its DFS contests.
- BetMGM Sportsbook: By the start of 2021, MGM Resorts’ online sportsbook had already launched in 10 states including Colorado, and seeks to go live in more.
- Fox Bet: Thanks to its integration with sports media provider Fox Sports, Fox Bet is one of the most immediately recognizable sports betting brands in the US.
- Caesars Sportsbook: A background player in the legal sports betting market, Caesars has decades of experience behind it thanks to its acquisition of William Hill’s US operations.
The first three on this list — DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM — have all lobbied in support of sports betting legislation in Kansas, confirming their interest in the state.
Meanwhile, PointsBet (also live in CO) entered into a sports betting partnership with Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel in Pittsburg. Penn National Gaming operates the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which could give its Barstool Sportsbook a means to launch in the state, as well.
Where can I legally bet on sports near me?
Four states border Kansas. Two of them, Oklahoma and Missouri, do not offer legal sports betting. The other two, Nebraska and Colorado, do allow sports betting.
Nebraska to the north passed expanded gambling legislation in 2021, with sports betting included. However, only retail sports betting is available, with mobile sports betting not an option in the state. Thus the only possibility is to visit Nebraska and bet in the casino sportsbooks.
The state has five tribal casinos, most of which are located in the northeast part of the state, plus the Rosebud Casino in Valentine in the north-central part of the state on the South Dakota state line. The largest casino in Nebraska is the Ohiya Casino & Resort in Niobrara, a good five-hour drive from Kansas.
There are more sports betting options to the west in Colorado, where both retail and mobile sports betting are legal. That means bettors in Kansas need only cross the state line to place wagers at DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and many other CO online sportsbooks.
Colorado also has more than 30 casinos, many of which operate retail sportsbooks. Aside from a couple of tribal casinos over in the southwest corner of the state, all of the casinos are in three cities: Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. That puts all of them about a four-hour drive from the Kansas state line.
Popular sports to bet on in Kansas
When sports betting becomes legal in Kansas, expect the usual variety of betting options that you’ll find in most US sportsbooks. Most accept wagers on practically all North American sports, both professional and some college ones. Often international sports such as European soccer are available to bet on as well.
Most sportsbooks offer bets on the following:
- Australian rules football
- Auto racing
- Mixed martial arts
It remains to be seen whether Kansas imposes any restrictions on betting on certain sports in its legislation. Some states disallow betting on sports involving colleges located within the state. Others restrict live betting or prop bets on college sports or individual college athletes. Legislation that Kansas lawmakers have contemplated to this point has not included such restrictions.
Pro and college sports teams
Technically speaking, Kansas has no professional franchises in any of the four major American sports leagues — MLB, the NBA, the NFL or the NHL. There is one Major League Soccer franchise in the state, Sporting Kansas City (formerly the Kansas City Wizards), which plays home matches at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas Speedway, also located near Kansas City, hosts two NASCAR races each year.
That said, those from Kansas still often have a strong rooting interest in pro teams that play home games just across the border in Kansas City, Missouri.
That means a lot of Kansans support the 2020 Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. That also means many in the state root for the Kansas City Royals in baseball, who last won the World Series in 2015. Meanwhile, to the south, the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder also has a lot of fans in Kansas.
Multiple universities in Kansas field NCAA teams, as well. The Kansas Jayhawks (in Lawrence) are the most popular, particularly the men’s basketball team, which has won three NCAA titles and is often in the mix when March Madness rolls around. The Kansas State Wildcats (in Manhattan) have also enjoyed success in basketball over the years, having advanced deep in the NCAA tournament on several occasions.
More recently, the Wichita State Shockers have emerged as a consistently competitive squad on the hardwood, also making multiple deep tournament runs. The Shockers finished the 2013-14 regular season undefeated (34-0), the first team to do so in more than two decades, before falling in the second round of that year’s NCAA tournament.
Both Kansas and Kansas State additionally compete in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.
Types of bets you can place
When sports betting does come to Kansas, the sportsbooks will offer a variety of bets, including these popular options:
- Moneyline — A “straight up” bet on one side to win, disregarding any point spreads.
- Spread — A bet that factors in the point spread, meaning if the Kansas Jayhawks are a 6.5-point favorite and you bet on Kansas -6.5, they need to win by more than 6.5 points (i.e., seven or more) in order to win your bet.
- Total — A bet on whether the total points by both sides will go over or under a line the sportsbook has set (aka an over/under bet).
- Parlay — A single wager involving multiple bets or “legs,” each of which has to be correct in order for the parlay to win.
- Round robin — A type of parlay that still pays out a partial amount if you lose one or more legs.
- Teaser — Another type of parlay in which the bettor gets to alter or “tease” the spreads or totals for the games in the parlay.
- Prop — A bet on an outcome separate from the game’s result, such as on how many points a particular player will score in the game. These wagers can be on individual players, one of the teams or the game as a whole.
- Futures bet — A bet on some event that will be settled at a future date, such as which player will win an MVP award or which team will win the title.
- Live — A bet on a particular play or result within a current game. Examples include bets on the outcome of the next play or moneyline, spread or over/under bets on the entire game, with the odds for each changing as the game progresses.
History of sports betting in Kansas
The story of Kansas sports betting is short and sweet, as there hasn’t been much action on it until 2015. For the most part, the state was anti-gambling until the 1970s when it legalized certain types of charitable and social gambling. But things changed quickly in the 2000s.
The next big expansion of gambling came in 2007 with the passage of the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act, which went into effect the following year. The new law allowed racetracks to install electronic gambling machines. More significantly, it also permitted the construction of four commercial casinos located in four “gaming zones” around the state. Over the course of several years, voters approved locations and casinos opened in each of the four zones.
In 2015, the state’s lawmakers passed a bill legalizing daily fantasy sports in Kansas. Meanwhile, lawmakers were already discussing sports betting bills by 2018, although no legislation gained enough support to pass.
The Senate did pass a sports betting bill in early 2020, and the House appeared supportive but the pandemic cut short that year’s legislative session. The Senate tried again in early 2021, passing a bill allowing the four commercial casinos to open retail sportsbooks and to partner with online books. The House altered the bill and then voted it down, ending hopes for sports betting becoming legal in 2021.