OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — It`s been nearly six months since the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for states to legalize sports betting. But what are the odds we’ll see it here any time soon?
Lawmakers in Missouri and Kansas are expected to take up the issue early next year. Bills were introduced in both states last year, but they didn’t gather much traction since that was before the historic Supreme Court ruling.
Missouri’s proposal would have restricted sports betting to riverboat casinos. But a Kansas version expected to be filed again in the 2019 session would reach much farther.
At McGuire`s Tavern in Overland Park, while most people have their eyes glued to sports action, others watch for their Keno numbers to flash across the TV screen.
“We don`t make a lot of money off it. But it keeps people here, and it gives them something to do, and it`s fun,” McGuire’s owner Mike Ray said.
But there`s another gaming proposal for the Kansas lottery that could bring sports bars a lot more business. State Rep. Jan Kessinger of Overland Park introduced the bill earlier this year.
“I think one of the keys to the success of sports betting in Kansas would be to make it accessible widespread. Some people say, ‘Oh, let`s just have it at the casinos.’ You can`t have sports betting at just four locations in Kansas,” Kessinger said.
That`s why Kessinger wants to extend it to sports bars offering Keno through the Kansas Lottery.
“It would be fabulous. It would encourage business. It would just blow up,” Ray said.
Kessinger said legislators will also toss around the idea of having sports gambling available on people’s phones.
“In Thursday night’s game, Derek Carr — is his first play going to be a pass or is it going to be a run? That`s an in-game bet that’s something that needs to be addressed and considered do we allow that or not.” Kessinger said.
“I can see where that would be a problem for some folks that may have an addiction to gambling. It`s on their phone, and they don`t even have to leave their home,” bar patron Jim Lillestons said.
But Lilleston said he supports the idea of sports gambling in Kansas overall because of the money it could bring in.
“It could generate about $75 million once we get it up and running. That`s $75 million to the state where they could add it to education, put it to the highway fund. We could fix the foster care system. A lot of things we could do with that,” Kessinger said.
Kessinger said, if approved, the earliest sports betting could be legal in Kansas is July 1.