by James Rogers
It’s one of the potentially major local business opportunities in the U.S. right now that not many people are talking about. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year lifted a federal ban on real money betting, opening the door for states to ratify gambling legislation one by one. Betting activity has already been made legal in Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and West Virginia, and a host of other states – including Kansas – are at least in the early stages of doing the same. But is our state in a true position to welcome gambling business? And would Topeka benefit directly? Let’s consider some of the factors.
The Proposed Business Model
Interestingly enough, early sports betting proposals in various states don’t necessarily favor the states having direct control over actual businesses. Normally this wouldn’t be a surprise, but since this is an industry being spawned directly from federal rulings, it almost seems as if it’s one that would be run by government. On the contrary, one of the better write-ups of Kansas and Missouri’s potential betting business specifically noted that state governments should let private companies take the bets. The perfectly logical argument is that states lack expertise in sports wagering, and should thus simply pave the way for businesses to grow on their own. In all likelihood that will mean national or even international companies being allowed to operate in the state. But that could still mean local jobs, and it’s perfectly conceivable that local betting businesses will also emerge.
It’s still important to recognize that as of this writing sports betting remains up for discussion in Kansas, meaning it is not strictly legal yet. For this reason the incoming state government is also worth considering. Democrat Laura Kelly will be the governor following her electoral victory over Kris Kobach in November, and while she hasn’t made a position on sports betting clear (it’s not exactly a huge election priority), we can look at her positions on business and consumers. It’s worth noting, if anything, that she is highly rated wen it comes to positions on independent business, which could mean – though we won’t put words in her mouth – that she would be open to allowing the betting industry to blossom under her.
The Casino Potential
Thanks to the Prairie Band Casino & Resort, some in Topeka are already fairly familiar with casino gaming. However, in assessing Kansas’s readiness to welcome gambling, it’s worth considering the potential for casinos to follow betting into U.S. entertainment culture. Already, many Americans can play low-stakes casino games. There are apps that simulate these games for free, and for that matter some of the professional gaming platforms operating overseas provide sample games and spins you don’t pay for in slot arcades and the like. All of this is accessible, lacking only the real money aspect that is still forbidden in most of the U.S. One has to wonder if a growing betting business would be followed by increasing demand for these games to be made available in their full forms.
Sports In Kansas
As far as actual interest in sports betting, there’s certainly reason to believe that Topeka and Kansas at large would have a thoroughly interested population. While Kansas City is technically out of state it is still a major American sports city, and the closest one to many in Kansas. There is activity in the MLB and NFL, not to mention one of the most passionately followed American professional soccer teams in the country. College sports, which would also be covered by sportsbooks, are also massive across the state, with the basketball programs at Kansas, Kansas State, and Wichita State in particular garnering a great deal of attention. Now, not all sports betting has to be on local teams – in fact, none of it does. But given all of this sporting interest across the state, it stands to reason there is a consumer base ready and waiting.