What Can Missouri Learn From Kansas Sports Betting?

Written By Jack McGee on May 5, 2023
Kansas sports betting lessons for Missouri

As much as some Missouri-based Kansas City Chiefs fans would have liked to bet on their team for the Super Bowl, casinos – and the state legislature – likely didn’t miss out on much revenue-wise.

As Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs hoisted another Vince Lombardi Trophy, Kansas sports betting operators were paying out big. This left Topeka with a mere $1,134 in February revenue, despite over $194 million in bets being placed.

Overall, state revenue from sports wagering in Kansas has exceeded some early expectations. It has totaled nearly $2.6 million from September to January, well above the $1.8 million estimated by the state prior to the end of the fiscal year, July 1.

March revenues returned to some form of normalcy after the Super Bowl results threw a wrench in sports betting revenue streams. The state brought in just north of $900,000.

Ultimately, the Kansas Lottery expects the state to bring in about $10 million a year by 2025, with the current 10 percent tax rate on sport betting they currently have in place.

Kansas sports betting tax revenue a drop in the bucket

What can Missouri sports betting take away from these numbers and early returns in the Sunflower State? People want to bet, but the state shouldn’t expect to bring in that much money.

A 10 percent tax on sports betting has become common among Missouri legislators pitching legalization. Every indicator says 10 percent would amount to more than $10 million.

Even if Missouri were to, theoretically, collect as much as $20 million in taxes from sports wagering, it would, like in Kansas, be a drop in the bucket for the state budget. On April 26, the state senate approved a nearly $50 billion budget for fiscal year 2024.

Is Kansas taking money from Missouri’s coffers?

Legislators have pointed to the problem of Missouri residents crossing borders into states where betting is legal. This ultimately results in a broader economic impact for neighboring states and their surrounding businesses, as they take money that would otherwise be spent in Missouri.

And it’s not just the Super Bowl. Missouri residents are likely finding their way across state lines for betting on other games as well.

Conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that some of Kansas’ early sports betting numbers are somewhat inflated. They would seemingly take a hit if sports wagering was legalized in Missouri.

Ultimately, the authority that would likely regulate sports betting in Missouri, the Missouri Gaming Commission, is doing their homework and learning lessons from more states than Kansas alone.

“We’ve had time to speak with other gaming commissions around the country and taking some of their rules and our expertise and combine them and we’re ready to move on this,” said Mike Leara, the chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission.

Much of the legislators have made up their mind on what they want Missouri sports betting to look like. This is the second consecutive year legislation has successfully passed the House with bipartisan support.

So how did Kansas get it done?

Debate over the legalization of video lottery terminals (VLTs) makes Missouri’s stalemate on sports betting unique.

It appears Kansas legislators came to terms with the fact that sports betting was not a big moneymaker. Their votes were not contingent on the legalization of VLTs as well. Electronic gaming machines are only legal in licensed facilities in Kansas.

But some in Missouri want to use the legal sports betting to find another revenue stream for the state.

Like in 2022, the biggest hill to climb continues to be in the Senate. Sen. Denny Hoskins continues to advocate for the legalization of VLTs being attached to any sports betting legislation, which is estimated to bring in significantly more money to the state.

The Missouri Gaming Commission and the state legislature will likely continue to look at other states’ implementation of sports betting, to replicate successes and avoid failures if and when it finally passes. However, the process to get any legislation across the finish line in Missouri is unique.

If Missouri sports betting is to be legalized anytime soon any time soon, Hoskins, Rep. Dan Houx, and the rest of the Missouri legislature must find a common ground. With the legislative session scheduled to wrap up on May 5, time is in short supply, at least for 2023.

“What makes it across the line?” Leara asked. “We don’t know yet. And it’s a real challenge to have any of this become law on the video lottery terminals.”

Jack McGee Avatar
Written by
Jack McGee

Jack, a Missouri State University journalism alum, has primarily covered government and politics with the Springfield Daily Citizen, which has contributed in keeping an eye out for what the Missouri legislature is up to when it comes to sports betting and other regulated forms of gaming. More of his work can be found at https://jack-mcgee.com.

View all posts by Jack McGee