Following a whirlwind day that included multiple conference committee meetings and a contentious but favorable House vote as Friday night (April 1) became Saturday morning, Kansas sports-betting legislation remains unresolved following a key legislative deadline.
After two days of meetings to hash out differences between the two chambers on Senate Bill 84, a conference committee made up of senators and representatives produced a compromise bill that leaders were optimistic would pass both chambers before the legislature’s “first adjournment,” a deadline that marks the effective end of the regular legislative session, on Friday night.
The House held up its end of the bargain, approving the newly negotiated bill around 1:30am local time with a 63-49 vote, but the Senate adjourned its session shortly thereafter without the bill coming to the floor for a vote.
Both chambers have now adjourned until April 25 when a veto session begins that is designed for action on legislation vetoed by the governor, as well as omnibus spending bills, but supporters remained optimistic that the sports-betting package would return for consideration on that date as well.
“I’m sure that the Senate will take this up when we return for our wrap-up session on April 25th,” tweeted Democratic Representative Stephanie Grisham, the House’s minority whip. “Sit tight sports wagering fans, it’s all part of the [Kansas legislature] process.”
The compromise bill retained aspects of legislation developed by the House over the past week, including a proposal for Kansas' four land-based casinos to each receive three online betting skins.
The committee ultimately reached a compromise of a flat tax rate of 10 percent of gross sports-betting revenue after the Senate included rates as low as 8 percent in its bill, while the House proposed a tax rate of up to 20 percent.
In addition, casinos would be allowed under the final bill to enter into “marketing agreements” with up to 50 different partners to install kiosks at locations throughout the state, although at least 20 percent of the agreements must be with fraternal or veterans’ organizations.
Where the bill ran into issues in the House was the late addition of a provision that would dedicate 80 percent of the revenue from sports betting to a new fund designed to attract professional sports teams to Kansas, amid reports that the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs would consider constructing a new stadium in Kansas.
“Games like this aren’t supposed to be played at the end,” said Representative Henry Helgerson, a Democrat, whose motion to reject the committee report fell one vote short prior to the House passing the bill.
Republican Representative John Barker, the House sponsor of the bill, said the late addition was a request from House leadership, which was the same reason he gave for the late removal of a provision from the House version of the bill last week to allow the Kansas Lottery to sell tickets online.
A debate over the online lottery provision stalled the bill in committee before leadership maneuvered to bring the bill directly to the floor without the online lottery provision included. That provision remained out of the bill following the decision.
Word circulated throughout the day on Friday that both chambers would consider the bill by night’s end, but the Senate adjourned for the night shortly after the House approved the compromise.