Kansas online sports betting set to launch by NFL opener

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Kansas is set to launch its first legal online sportsbooks before kick-off of the upcoming NFL season, perenially operators’ most lucrative time of the year.

Several mobile sportsbooks are set to launch fully by Sept. 8, Kansas regulators announced Thursday, positioning the Jayhawk State to capture all of the lucrative NFL season and nearly all of the 2022 college football season. Kansas would be the first state to pass a mobile sports betting bill in 2022 to launch its online sportsbooks.

Barstool, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel are among the operators set to launch on or near the go-live date. The latter four sportsbooks make up more than 80% of the national US sports betting market by handle.

Kansas’ law permits up to 12 mobile books, but it wasn’t clear as of Thursday’s announcement which operators would enter or when they would do so.

A September sports betting launch would complete the quickest turnaround from bill signing to first bet in US sports betting history. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed the bill into law in June.

Iowa, the previous record holder, Indiana and Arizona are among just a handful of the more than 20 legal online sports betting states to complete the launch process in less than six months. Other states to pass 2022 sports betting bills including Massachusetts and Ohio aren’t set to go live until late in this year’s NFL regular season.

As with all other legal wagering states, Kansas was required to adopt and pass regulations for sportsbooks, creating rules to monitor a host of key issues including eligible bet types and events. Each sportsbook also had to pass independent lab testing certification.

Kansas technically considers its four commercial casinos as subsidiaries of its state-run lottery, an unusual regulatory structure that helped expedite the licensing process.

Each of the four casinos can partner with up to three mobile operators apiece. PointsBet and Bally Bet are among additional operators set to enter the state through prior market access agreements.

The four caisnos can also open their respective retail sportsbooks on the Sept. 8 go live date. Kansas will have a “soft launch” for mobile books beginning Sept. 1, allowing customers to register and place bets ahead of the formal launch a week later.

Legal Kansas sportsbooks will be able to take bets on in-state NCAA programs, a key provision in a college-sports crazy state. The University of Kansas hosts the reigning NCAA Men’s Basketball champions and is a perennial powerhouse while Kansas State University’s football program routinely contends for Top 25 rankings.

Kansas’ only major professional sports franchise is Sporting Kansas City of MLS, though it shares the Kansas City metro area with Missouri, home to the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and MLB’s Kansas City Royals. Part of the state’s sports betting proceeds are set to go to a fund designed to attract additional professional sports teams, a controversial provision that almost tanked the legalization bills’ passage.

Once all sportsbooks are live, the state expects legal sports betting will generate a few million dollars a year toward an annual state budget that typically exceeds $16b.

The state’s pending online sports betting launch comes after Missouri was unable to pass a legalization bill of its own. Despite routinely citing a desire to not only beat its western neighbor to lunch but create a superior bill, the Show Me State’s legalization efforts faltered late in the legislative process as part of a prolonged battle over unlicensed video gaming terminals.

This will likely create one of the nation’s largest cross-state sports wagering market as thousands of residents of Kansas City, Missouri are expected to cross state lines to place bets in the new legal market.

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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