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Lobbyists To Kansas Government: 'Leave Sports Betting To Casinos'

Lobbyists From Kansas Casinos Point To Super Bowl Losses In New Jersey and Rhode Island To Strengthen Argument

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Lobbyists made their way to Topeka on Tuesday to discourage lawmakers in Kansas from having the government run their own sportsbooks.

Instead, Whitney Damron from Hollywood Casino in Kansas City and Kevin Fowler from the Kansas Star Casino argued that the state should leave the bookmaking to the pros. Damron pointed to the massive losses that books in New Jersey and Rhode Island suffered from taking bets on the Super Bowl as evidence.

New Jersey sportsbooks lost $4.5 million and bettors in Rhode Island won $2.35 million from sportsbooks in their state on the football game alone.

“We don’t think the state of Kansas should take on that risk,” Damron told the legislators. “We don’t think the headline after the Super Bowl should read, ‘Patriots win another Super Bowl, state of Kansas loses $3 million.’”

New Jersey sportsbooks lost money on the matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, but they did come out ahead for their first half year of legalized betting. The sportsbooks, which are operated by private companies, won just shy of $94 million from bettors in the state in 2018.

The nation’s capital has decided to go a different route. In Washington D.C., the D.C. Council opted to give full control of its sports betting operations to its Lottery and Intralot, the Greek company that runs it.

There are three bills in the Kansas legislature at the moment that would legalize sports betting in the state. Last December, the legislature agreed to consider sports betting bills, before being introduced in January.

Based on the variety of interests that showed up to the hearing on Tuesday, if the bills are passed, there will be a lot of people wanting a piece of the pie.

The casino lobbyists want the casinos to be able to offer sports betting, but representatives for convenience stores and restaurants were in attendance as well, hoping to provide kiosks for sports betting in the future.