Even if Kansas decides to legalize sports betting after the Supreme Court decision that opened the door this week, it’s not likely to produce a huge windfall for the state.
“The thing to keep in mind is this is a tax base that there’s going to be a lot of competition for,” said Jacob Fowles, associate professor in the KU School of Public Affairs & Administration. “I mean, when we look across states, according to the numbers that I’ve been looking at when I was doing some research about it, about half of states seem to be moving in the direction of allowing some kind of sports betting.”
That would mean the pie of potential tax dollars could be sliced pretty thinly.
“Las Vegas has made a lot of money and the state of Nevada has made a lot of money on these things because they’ve had, basically, the only game in town,” said Fowles. “I think when you take that game and split it up across about half of states. I think we just have to be realistic about what we can expect.”
Given that any revenue would be new revenue, though, you know that government will be looking at it closely.
Sports betting is something that clearly a lot of individuals have been interested in for a really long time,” said Fowles. “If we say, well, this is probably occurring anyway and so making it on the books, putting it on the books and making it legal gives us the ability to regulate it and make sure it’s happening ethically and kind of have the state have some oversight on it and then generating some tax revenue on top of that, if there are folks in Kansas who are being involved in those markets, then I think it makes sense that the state of Kansas should be able to access that revenue stream, too, as opposed to having it go somewhere else.”
The Legislature will likely not have an opportunity to do anything about the decision until they return for the 2019 session in January.