PITTSBURG — If a bill under discussion in the state legislature is approved, Kansas Crossing Casino may soon feature a variety of options for sports betting. It remains to be seen, however, whether the city and county governments where it operates will directly receive a percentage of the new revenue generated.
Sportsbook operator PointsBet announced last week it had “entered an exclusive primary skin agreement” with Kansas Crossing.
“The agreement will allow PointsBet to provide retail and online sports wagering in the state of Kansas, contingent upon obtaining the necessary regulatory licenses,” according to a press release.
“A skin agreement,” according to the website SportsHandle, “provides an online sportsbook operator with market access in a certain jurisdiction under a land-based casino’s existing license.”
PointsBet and the casino “will work in tandem to build out a multi-faceted sports entertainment venue, which will include a sports bar, multi-screen video and odds display wall, additional casino gaming options and on-site viewing parties for major sporting events, providing the state with a premium sportsbook option in addition to PointsBet's best-in-class online wagering product,” according to the release.
"Kansas Crossing is excited to join forces with PointsBet to develop a world-class retail sportsbook at the Casino and launch online sports wagering in Kansas," Doug Fisher, Kansas Crossing vice president and general manager, said in the release. "We are certainly aligned in our efforts to provide the great citizens of the Sunflower State with the premium product they deserve, and we look forward to doing so with the PointsBet team."
The PointsBet announcement came the day after the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that legalized sports gambling advocates had endorsed a bill that would allow the four state-sanctioned casinos, including Kansas Crossing, to take bets on college and pro sports events either at the casinos themselves or through internet or mobile devices.
According to the Kansas Legislative Research Department, the state currently does not have any laws on the books that allow sports betting.
Matthew Bergmann, an attorney with a Topeka law firm representing Kansas Crossing, along with the Boot Hill Casino & Resort in Dodge City “said the foundation created in 2007 for establishment of the four state-owned casinos could be effectively used to integrate legal sports betting in Kansas,” according to the Capital-Journal. “The licensed casino companies have so far invested $1 billion in construction, development and operation of the facilities and contributed $110 million in revenue to the state in fiscal year 2019.”
Beyond the legally required tax revenue, Kansas Crossing has donated additional money locally. The casino has donated more than $1 million, for example, to the Crawford County Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC).
“Boot Hill and Kansas Crossing strongly support sports wagering in this state,” Bergmann reportedly said.
The Capital-Journal’s report noted, however, that the proposed sports gambling bill “would deliver to the state government a 7.5% tax on casino wagers and 10% tax on mobile bets, but the legislation wouldn’t earmark a percentage of revenue for city or county governments.”
According to the report, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County was supportive of the legislation, but wanted it amended to include a 2 or 3 percent revenue contribution to local government consistent with existing Kansas law for casinos. The League of Kansas Municipalities was neutral on support for the bill but also wanted to see cities and counties receive a portion of sports betting revenue.
“Sports wagering is something that many people within the state would like to see pass,” John Goodyear, an attorney with the League of Kansas Municipalities, reportedly said. “It is foreseeable that more people will be making their way to these facilities, increasing the burden on local government entities.”
Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle said county officials have heard from legislative consultants they work with that the sports betting bill could pass this year, but neither county commissioners nor their consultants have taken a position for or against the legislation.
The City of Pittsburg did not respond directly to a question as to whether it would like to see the bill amended similarly to what Wyandotte County requested, but released a statement that appeared supportive of the legislation.
“We support the Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel and I believe they support the sports betting bill,” City Manager Daron Hall said in the statement.
Kansas Crossing Vice President and General Manager Doug Fisher could not be reached for comment.
Brianne Doura-Schawohl, legislative director for the National Council on Problem Gambling, reportedly said legal sports betting would contribute to gambling addiction problems, and recommended the legislation include a provision requiring 1 percent of revenue be dedicated to addiction prevention and treatment.
“Everyone who profits from sports betting bears responsibility for gambling problems,” Doura-Schawohl reportedly said. “Dedicating a portion of profits from gambling to mitigate gambling harm is an ethical imperative and an economic necessity.”
Kansas Crossing’s website currently includes a “responsible gaming” section, which notes that the casino “has a commitment to our Team Members, Guests, and the Community to make responsible gaming an integral part of our daily operations.” It also includes definitions of responsible gaming and problem gaming, and a link to a website and a 1-800 number to call to get help with gambling addiction.