Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow states to decide on their own whether to legalize gambling, many states, especially those with some form of gambling already in place, have been debating whether to allow sports gaming. Both Kansas and Missouri already allow gaming in selected areas, but it remains to be seen whether either state will allow sports wagering as a part of its gambling portfolio.
Current State of Gaming in Kansas and Missouri
In Kansas, the Kansas Lottery does participate in lotteries at both the state and national level. The Kansas Lottery also has scratch tickets. Bingo games for charity are also allowed in the state. There are currently three casinos in Kansas that are operated under state control: the Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City, Kansas, which has a Western saloon-décor theme; the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, and the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City. Several Native American casinos in the state also offer casino gaming. In addition, the racetracks in Kansas offer pari-mutuel betting. These might be seen as good places to begin sports wagering.
Missouri has many more casinos than Kansas, 13, and they are located along either the Missouri River or the Mississippi River. Bingo is also legal in the state, as long as it is for charity. Like Kansas, Missouri participates in a lottery, both at the state and national level. While there are several dirt-track racing venues, none of them offers gaming. Horse gaming, such as pari-mutuel betting, is allowed at two horse racing tracks.
The Twists and Turns of Legislation
The legislative session in both Kansas and Missouri were finished (or nearly finished) by the time the High Court handed down its decision. In both states, the first opportunity lawmakers will have to debate sports gaming will be when their legislative sessions begin in January.Many legislative experts have noted that both Missouri and Kansas could use additional revenue in their coffers, and could use this time before the session begins to formulate their arguments before those legislators who are opposed to gaming.
While Kansas directly owns all the non-Native American casinos, Missouri does not. Recently, both the Kansas Legislature and Missouri General Assembly have debated the implications of offering sports gaming to the public. Missouri could gain additional revenue by allowing casinos to pay a fee for additional gaming licenses, and then tax the revenue from the casino. Kansas, because it directly owns its casinos, may choose to go a different route. It may skip the licensing altogether, and begin offering sportsbooks directly through the casinos and horse tracks.Neither state has considered what to do with regard to online sports gaming. Currently, a few states, such as Pennsylvania, are going in that direction. But, it is possible that either Kansas or Missouri may follow Pennsylvania’s lead and decide to introduce online sports gaming for additional revenue.
Additionally, each state will have to make decisions on more important issues, such as how to regulate the sports gaming process and how much to tax the revenue. Some legislators have argued that part of the tax revenue from sports wagering should go toward programs for individuals with gambling addictions. Some states have also contracted with sports data teams that will track the money flowing into and out of betting sites in order to maintain the integrity of the game. Whatever each state decides, it needs to be sure that the games remain fair and free from criticism—which is just as important as making sure that sports fans are entertained.
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