Kansas looking to use sports betting taxes to lure Chiefs

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers are poised to approve a sports betting permit measure that would direct most of the state’s revenue to efforts to lure the Kansas City Chiefs from Missouri to the Kansas side of the metro area.

Lawmakers are expected to give final approval this week to a bill allowing state residents to use cellphone or computer apps to wager on sporting events and place bets at state-owned casinos or up to 50 other locations chosen by each casino.

A version cleaned the house earlier this month and was due for a vote in the Senate on Wednesday, but senators found they wanted technical changes before they were passed on to Governor Laura Kelly.

The state would impose a 10% tax on every wager, and the measure says 80% of the revenue — perhaps $5 million a year — would go into a fund to entice professional sports teams to come to Kansas. Teams could include the professional baseball Kansas City Royals or professional basketball or hockey teams.

However, most fans considered trying to lure the Chiefs to the Legends, a shopping and entertainment district in Kansas City, Kansas, which is already home to a NASCAR track, professional football’s Sporting KC and a casino owned by the state.

The idea has been met with bipartisan skepticism in the Republican-controlled Legislature, with some lawmakers viewing it as pipe dream. But top Republicans said they were just trying to put Kansas in a better position to land the Chiefs or another team, if they wanted to move.

“I would love to see the Chiefs play Kansas, but I’m in no position to really assess and know how bad it is,” said Senate Speaker Ty Masterson, a Republican from Andover.

The Supreme Court of the United States in 2018 canceled a ban on sports betting in most states. Twenty-nine have allowed commercial sports betting, while another six allow Native American tribes to provide it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Missouri lawmakers are also considering a move to legalize sports betting.

Kansas allows betting through fantasy sports leagues, operates a state lottery, and allows private companies to operate four casinos under contract with the lottery. Efforts to allow sports betting have stalled in the past due to the control of public casinos and the desirability of allowing other new forms of gambling.

Proponents also have to contend with moral objections from some lawmakers. GOP Rep. Paul Waggoner of Hutchinson argued that gambling addiction destroys families and was disappointed that fellow Republicans backed the bill.

“You’re supposed to be the party that promotes, you know, family values ​​or family cohesion,” Wagoner said.

But other lawmakers said people were already betting illegally.

“We have to regulate it and tax it,” said House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, a Democrat from Wichita.

The proposal to attract professional sports teams was born as reports circulated At a recent meeting of National Football League owners, Chiefs chairman Mark Donovan said the team had considered options for a new stadium in Kansas. Chiefs spokesman Brad Gee declined to comment on the legislation to The Associated Press.

With a decade left on their lease at Kauffman Stadium, the Baseball Royals consider options which include a new stadium in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The team also did not immediately comment on Wednesday.

Both teams’ stadiums opened side-by-side in Kansas City, Missouri in the early 1970s.

Kansas State Sen. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican who helped draft the bill’s final version, said the Legends area has room to build condominiums and more convenience stores. retail.

“I think that’s probably one of the best areas to do something like that,” Olson said.

But other lawmakers said the provision was an unnecessary distraction. Sen. Jeff Pittman, a Democrat from Leavenworth, said it appears lawmakers are creating a “slush fund” and the money raised from sports betting would be far too small to attract a new team.

“Where is this money going?” Pitman said. “What if it’s just a chimera? This money is just going to sit there for five years?

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