Kansas Lawmakers Approve Sports Betting Agreement with Iowa Tribe

profile image of Dave Grendzynski
The Kansas Jayhawks mascot and cheerleaders perform prior to the start of the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Sports betting will soon be more widespread in the Sunflower State.

The Kansas Legislature has voted to amend the state’s gambling compact with the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, allowing sports betting on the tribe’s reservation land in northeast Kansas. The amendment has already been endorsed by the Committee on Inter-Tribal Relations and passed in the House and Senate with votes of 101-20 and 30-5, respectively. The resolutions were then sent to Gov. Laura Kelly for approval. 

The revised gambling compact, which is necessary for the Iowa Tribe to initiate sports betting in Kansas, must be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Interior. The bill allows the tribe to update its gaming compact to allow for sports betting. The tribe currently operates Casino White Cloud in Brown County.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, operating a casino north of Topeka, was the first tribe to adopt sports betting last year.

The Amended Compact Might Look Familiar

Attorney Russ Brien, who is a member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, says this decision mirrors last year’s move by the Prairie Band Casino & Resort in Mayetta, “This is substantively, other than changing the names and dates, identical to the compact this committee approved last year for Prairie Band,” he said. 

Justin Whitten, the governor’s chief counsel, stated that the newly revised compact authorizes in-person sports wagering on reservation land that the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska holds. According to Whitten, the compact contains a trigger mechanism that would enable remote online wagering from locations across the state.

Why is The Kansas Sports Betting Amendment Needed?

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, removing the federal law that limited legal sports betting operations. Consequently, sports betting began to expand in states and on tribal lands.

In 2022, the Legislature, after many years of discussion, passed a bill for mobile and retail sports gambling. Kelly enacted this bill into law, which applies to several state-licensed casinos. These casinos include the Boot Hill Casino & Resort in Dodge City, the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, and the Kansas Crossing Casino in Pittsburg.

Tribes in Kansas can also participate in sports betting, including betting on professional and college events. However, they must follow a different process to receive full regulatory approval. A tribal casino must send a request to the governor if it wants to offer sports betting. Then, it must negotiate with the executive branch to amend the compact.

Sports Betting Generating Big Bucks in Kansas

Tribes recognize that the popularity of sports betting is hard to contest. The money it generates for the state is also tough to argue against. As of February, the state collected a little over $13 million from sports gambling.

There’s also discussion about using some of that money to entice either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Kansas City Royals to relocate from Missouri to Kansas. However, despite the state’s efforts to maintain a fund aimed at attracting professional sports teams, current estimates indicate that the funds generated thus far fall significantly short of the capital required for stadium construction or maintenance.

We’ll continue to track the developments.