Kansas plans ‘soft launch’ of sports betting on September 1 for start of football season

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TOPEKA — Sports betting in Kansas will launch Sept. 1, state officials announced Thursday, allowing bets to be placed at the start of the football season.

In April, lawmakers passed legislation to greenlight sports betting in the state under the Kansas Lottery administration. The action is estimated to generate revenue of up to $10 million a year within three years, with funds earmarked to fight white-collar crime and attract new sports businesses.

Governor Laura Kelly signed Senate Bill 84 in May. Lottery officials worked with the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission and the operators of four casinos to implement sports betting well ahead of the Jan. 1 deadline.

Stephen Durrell, executive director of the Kansas Lottery, announced the “tentative soft launch” to place bets at noon on September 1, followed by a full launch on September 8.

“A lot of people have worked very hard in a very short time to make sports betting a reality here in the state,” Durrell said in a promotional video.

The timing corresponds to the start of the college football and NFL seasons. The Kansas State University football team’s first game is Sept. 3, and the Kansas City Chiefs play their regular-season opener Sept. 11.

“Legalizing sports betting is a common sense solution that keeps Kansans money in Kansas and drives business to sporting events, casinos, restaurants and other places of entertainment,” the governor said. “I want to thank all of our partners for working with us to get this done in time for the football season.”

Legislation allows placing sports bets in casinos and on mobile apps. The four state-licensed casinos operate in Kansas City, Mulvane, Pittsburgh and Dodge City. Tribal casinos are still negotiating deals with regulators.

State officials said the operators were granted a one-year provisional license and the platforms that were awarded contracts “will be announced soon.”

The website BetKansas.comwhich describes itself as a “group of sports betting and casino experts”, identified the platforms that will be ready to launch on September 1 as FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM, Penn National Gaming (Barstool) and FILL IN.

The Senate passed a law authorizing sports betting by a vote of 21 to 13 after the House passed it by a vote of 73 to 49.

“Kansas is already betting on sports,” said Sen. Jeff Pittman, a Democrat from Leavenworth who voted for the bill. “Many do it on illegal platforms that take money out of the state. Sports betting isn’t for everyone. It’s just another avenue for avid gamblers.

Opponents of the bill questioned its legality, how revenues would be used and the harmful impact of gambling.

“We will destroy people’s lives,” said Sen. Mark Steffen, a Hutchinson Republican. “We don’t know their names at this time. We don’t know what they look like. But we know it will happen.

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