Online Gambling Safe in the Sunflower State

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shutterstock_114996745A bill aimed at expanding gaming possibilities for the state of Kansas was voted down 24-15 in the Senate recently. The bill, which would have made casino development more attractive for investors, included a proposal to ban not only electronic slots and video games from existing racetracks, but also online gambling of any fashion.

Under current Kansas state law, authorized in 2007, slot machines may be installed at horse or dog racetracks. The Kansas Lottery Commission has rights to 60 percent of the profits generated by slot and video gaming machines. The 40 percent cap that has been placed on racetrack owner’s profits is not enough to make slots a viable option for some racetracks. Although authorized for the installation of slot machines, the Wichita Greyhound Park, the Camptown Greyhound Park and The Woodlands dog and horse racing park, all closed in 2007 and 2008.

“Three-hundred people immediately lost their jobs at Greyhound Park in Wichita.” Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, stated. The closure of the park in Wichita was announced just hours after the 2007 law passed, stating the difficulty in generating profits with only racing as the entertainment draw. Sen. Faust-Goudeau further stated that as much as 67 percent of her constituents backed slots at the track.

The proposed bill was geared towards opening the door to the building of new casinos, as the bill included a proposal to lower a developer’s required investment from $225 million to $50 million, and to lower the state fee from $25 million to $5.5 million. The bill, had it passed, would have seen casino development in a southeastern part of the state; offering competition to the casinos in the northern corner of neighbouring state Oklahoma. Legislators who service the districts affected by this gambling zone were in favour of the bill, as it would have generated income for the state and created jobs.

Casino investors and gambling opponents were in favour of the bill, as it would have meant that gaming machines would have been available to casinos only. The bill would have reduced the gaming facilities in the state by as much as half, paving the way for new casino development and investment opportunities.

“In my community we had a vote … and asked the community whether they wanted to authorize a casino facility in the Wichita area and the racetrack slots and both were defeated,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita. “People have sought to overturn that for years.”

The proposed bill would have also made online gaming illegal and given the state the authority to prosecute anyone caught in such an act. The proposed penalties would have included up to six months in jail and a possible $1000 fine. This ban would have been applicable to anyone using the internet or a mobile wireless device for gaming purposes. Had it passed, these measures would have been a step back for the online gaming industry, which is attempting to broaden online poker and gaming options in many other states.