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Kansas Sports Betting Bill Creates Friction in House

A Kansas sports betting bill went before a House committee in a meeting Tuesday morning, only to conclude with an abrupt ending. This has clouded the perception surrounding the bill, which aimed at bringing legal sports betting into Kansas state lines.

Proponents of HB 2740 had hoped that the bill would pass through the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs without any hang-ups and advance to a full vote in the afternoon; what ultimately happened was the committee adjourned its meeting after disagreeing about proposed amendments related to online lottery sales.

The Kansas legislative session does not end until May 20 and there will be plenty of time for the committee to return and debate the topic.

An amendment causes a hold-up

Representative John Barker, the committee’s chair, proposed an amendment that would remove the right of the Kansas Lottery to sell tickets online. Barker revealed that he had been asked by other members of the House to bring the idea forward.

Barker’s amendment was met with disagreement from other members of the committee and ultimately failed. Critics of the Barker-led plan stated that removing online lottery ticket sales would cost the state $10 million in future revenue, which on its own was enough for many to draw the line in the sand. 

Tory Marie Arnberger, the committee’s vice-chair, brought a motion to reconsider after the amendment failed; however, several members felt that he had not stated his position on the matter clearly enough and could therefore not call for a motion to reconsider.

Representative Stephanie Clayton, who raised issue with Barker’s amendment, was the first to question Arnberger’s power in the matter.

“I have a point of order,” Clayton said. “I don’t recall you voting for that amendment.”

Barker said that he “Always believes” Arnberger and would allow the motion to reconsider— however, that too failed, and Barker quickly concluded the meeting. 

“I am surprised,” Barker said. “We are adjourned.”

Kansas sports betting outlook

The issue of Kansas sports betting has had a renewed struggle in the state government. The committee must first agree on HB 2740 before it can advance to House and Senate votes. 

One amendment proposed by representative Francis Awerkamp aimed to give the state lottery control over gambling enterprises, which would likely stall any sports betting until 2023. 

“I will tell you that if this gets on, we will have no sports betting. … The casinos are not on board,” Barker said. “The retailers are not on board. I can’t think of anybody that’s on board.”

Awerkamp’s idea went down in flames, much to the happiness of pro-sports betting legislatures and citizens. However, it still remains evident that there are many schools of thought that must be united on the matter. 

Representative Clayton said that she is still hoping that there will be another meeting to pass the bill later this week. 

“Communications broke down, but I do think there’s an opportunity for us to take another bite of this apple and get it done,” Clayton said.

Kansas is looking to join the likes of Iowa and Illinois in the Midwest betting scene— passing HB 2740 would go a long way to making this happen.

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