Kansas is slightly more gambling-friendly than the average state in the US. The state has a very healthy brick-and-mortar casino industry and permits some forms of online betting. Online sports betting, online poker and casino sites are still outlawed but state authorities do not pursue individual players who play at offshore gaming sites.
At one point, a proposed bill in Kansas sought to establish a new casino in the southeastern region of the state. The bill included text that would have made it a crime to participate in online poker or gambling – most likely in an attempt to protect the land-based industry. The bill ultimately failed and participation in offshore gambling remains a legal grey area.
The forms of online betting that are expressly legal in Kansas include fantasy sports, parimutuel wagering and games of skill. Currently there are no plans to expand or restrict online casino games or poker. Lawmakers have introduced legislation to legalize real-world and online sports betting, but those efforts failed to gain much ground before the end of the last legislative session.
Legal Kansas Betting Sites
Horse and Greyhound Betting:
Games of Skill:
Sports Betting in Kansas
Kansas entered the sports betting fray in early 2018 when lawmakers introduced a bill seeking to legalize sports betting if the federal ban on sports betting is repealed or stricken down. At the time the bill was introduced, the Supreme Court was mulling over New Jersey’s challenge of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that prohibited sports betting in all but a few states until it was stricken down by the Supreme Court in May of 2018.
In February of 2018, lawmakers introduced House Bill 2752 which would legalize sports betting if conducted by the Kansas Lottery through state-owned casinos, online and via mobile apps. The bill called for a $10,000 licensing fee for casinos and wagering platforms interested in offering sports betting. That license would then be renewed annually at a cost of $5,000.
This first Kansas sports betting bill caused some controversy as local casino interests opposed the bill from the beginning. The most contentious issue was a provision in the bill calling for an “integrity fee” of 1% of total betting handle to be paid to professional sports leagues in the USA.
As casino representatives noted at the time, a 1% fee of betting handle was roughly equivalent to taxing casinos 20-25% on revenue. That “integrity fee” would be taken in addition to regular taxes and other expenses betting operators would have to pay. These fees, representatives said, would make it difficult if not impossible for legal sports betting operators to compete with illegal offshore operators.
A representative for the MLB countered that the integrity fee was necessary to help offset the costs of protecting the integrity of professional sports as well as to compensate the MLB for the “billions” they spend putting on games that people can then bet on.
HB 2752 is still a work in progress and is likely to undergo some amount of change before progressing further. As always, we’ll keep this page up to date as sports betting legislation advances in Kansas.
Lawmakers introduced a second bill in 2018 that offers some compromises on some of the most contentious demands made by the sports leagues. Senate Bill 455 was introduced in March of 2018 and it scales back the sports integrity fee from 1% of total betting handle to 0.25% of betting handle, maxing out at 5% of betting revenue.
The sports leagues have also asked to have a say on which bets may be offered on their games, but others have opposed that measure as well. SB 455 strikes a compromise by allowing sports leagues to request restrictions on certain types of bets, but ultimately gives the final say to the Kansas racing and gaming commission.
This newer bill is an improvement over the original version as it reduces the integrity fee and limits the power of the sports leagues, but some are still expressing concerns.
The biggest fantasy betting sites are all headquartered in the United States and are therefore very careful about adhering to the laws of every state they serve. Sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings have looked into the legal landscape in Kansas and determined that it is safe to accept customers from the state.
If you’re familiar with fantasy leagues, the idea for online fantasy is similar. The biggest difference is online fantasy leagues only last a week rather than an entire season. You can draft a new team every week and participate in as many contests as you like. If you’re not familiar with fantasy betting, you can read all about how it works here.
The legality of real money fantasy sports in Kansas came in question in 2014 when the Kansas Gaming and Racing Commission republished a question on its FAQ page about fantasy sports betting. On that page, the KGRC seemed to indicate that fantasy betting was illegal under KS law.
This caused a stir in the state as people thought this was new information and meant Kansas authorities were planning to crack down on fantasy betting. The KGRC had to explain that fantasy betting has always been illegal in Kansas and that nothing had changed.
The Wichita Eagle then published a piece explaining that yes, fantasy betting is technically illegal but that you probably won’t get in trouble for participating. The commission never had the power to prosecute individuals for participating in fantasy leagues and county police had no desire to enforce the law anyways.
The issue was further clarified in 2015 after the Kansas Attorney General issued an opinion in April of that year. Attorney General Derek Schmidt deemed fantasy sports leagues to be contests of skill and therefore legal under Kansas law.
The Kansas legislature further solidified the issue by passing a law to formally legalize and regulate fantasy sports just a month later. HB 2155 was signed by the Governor in May and took effect on July 1st, 2015.
Horse and Greyhound Racing
Parimutuel wagering is legal in Kansas online and in the real world. However, all of the state’s racetracks have been closed since 2008 due to declining revenue. Casino mogul Phil Ruffin shut down the Wichita Greyhound Park in 2007 after a referendum to allow slot machines and casino games at the park failed to pass. He remains interested in reopening the track but has stated it needs slots or casino games to remain viable.
A lack of physical racetracks doesn’t mean you’re out of luck though. Online horse racing is still conducted by licensing betting sites located in the US. Three large horse racing websites are authorized to accept wagers from customers in KS: BetAmerica, TwinSpires and WatchandWager.
BetAmerica and WatchandWager cover horse and greyhound racing while TwinSpires is devoted purely to horse racing. All three sites are safe places to play and each has its own charm. It wouldn’t hurt to check out a couple of them before deciding on just one. I’ve worked with all of these sites myself and have only had good experiences.
Skill Games and Bingo
Kansas law does not prohibit wagering on contests of skill as long as they are legitimately based on the skills of the participants. One website, WorldWinner.com, specializes in hosting games of this nature. You can visit that website to play games such as Bejeweled, Scrabble and Spades against real people for real money.
Traditional online bingo is banned in Kansas.
Online Poker and Casinos in Kansas
Kansas statutes 21-6403 and 21-6404 define gambling as a “making a bet” and a “bet” as a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement.
Most experienced poker players would tell you that poker isn’t dependent upon chance but the law doesn’t see it that way. In Kansas, any game that includes the three basic elements of prize, chance and consideration (a wager) is classified as gambling. The state considers poker to have all three elements and therefore considers it a gambling game.
No Kansas law specifically mentions online poker, but it doesn’t need to. Any form of unsanctioned “gambling” is considered illegal. It is a misdemeanor offense to participate as a player with a punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The good news for anyone who chooses to play at offshore poker sites is the state does not pursue players. To date, not a single Kansas has ever been prosecuted for playing online poker or gambling online.