KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Legal sports betting is now live in Kansas with the first in-person wagers happening Thursday at the Hollywood Casino as Kansas Speedway.
Gambling apps are also now active, with the hook being that your cell phone must be within the borders of the Sunflower State.
Thursday was the culmination of late-session moves by the Kansas Legislature, sending casinos into action to capitalize on the legalization of sports wagering.
Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway opened an in-person Barstool sportsbook at noon. Legalization happened so quickly that management stressed the area is a temporary set-up. They have big expansion plans starting in the fall.
Still, they have 30 betting kiosks, five betting windows, and tons of screens and odds boards.
Following a ribbon cutting, sportsbook employees logged in to take wagers for the first time. At the front of the line was Rob Crosswade who said he wanted to be there for the memory.
“Me and my dad came down, and we’re ready to put our first bet in. Jayhawks are going to go back-to-back this year, and the Chiefs are going to win it, too,” Crosswade said.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly placed the first bet of the day — putting $15 on the Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl.
“Every day, though, I do hear from Kansans across the state who tell me that they are literally counting down the hours until they can finally legally wager on sports,” Kelly said.
Legalization comes at a prime moment: the start of the NFL and college football seasons.
Casino management said previously bets on those games would either happen illegally online or in another state.
“Kansas can now compete on a level playing field with the neighboring states of Colorado and Iowa while also offering a product that is not available in Missouri,” said Lydia Mason-Garvey, vice president and general manager for Penn National Gaming and Hollywood Casino.
“Billions of dollars of investment. Thousands of jobs. And it’s all about compromise and working together,” said Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway.
“I’m glad we were able to get it here, and I’m glad we were able to get it here before Missouri,” Kelly said.
As for revenue, the state will take a flat 10% cut of all bets. That’s for online or in-person bets.
Casino management expects the in-person sportsbook to be busy with people from both sides of the state line — while some people in these first moments said the day’s bet also acts as a souvenir.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling problem, help is available.
Find resources from the Kansas Behavioral Health Services, Kansas Gambling Help, or call the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1-800-522-4700.