Capitol Update: Rep. Brandon Woodard says new sports betting law is a win for Kansas

Rep. Brandon Woodard of House District 30 in Lenexa. Image via Brandon Woodard For Kansas Facebook page.

Each week during the 2022 Kansas legislative session, we will provide Shawnee Mission area legislators the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol.

Below is this week’s submission from Democratic Rep. Brandon Woodard of Kansas House District 30, which covers parts of Lenexa and Olathe. 

Democratic Rep. Lindsay Vaughn, Republican Rep. Carl Turner and Democratic Sen. Pat Pettey were also given opportunities this week to submit columns. 

The views expressed in each Capitol Update are solely those of the lawmaker and are not reflective of the Post’s position on any matter discussed. 

In one of the bipartisan wins of the 2022 session, Kansas is starting to move into the 21st Century. Four years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law preventing legalized betting on college and professional sports, legal sports betting is coming to Kansas.

With the new law, sports enthusiasts that are at least 21 years old will be able to place sports bets on mobile apps created by the state’s casinos or in-person at casino facilities.

Sports teams and events may also allow gambling at their stadiums but will be required to enter marketing agreements with one of the casinos. This move will make Kansas a net importer of sports fans, especially bringing Kansas City, Missouri, residents across the state line.

The Kansas Lottery estimates sports wagering will generate about $10 million a year.

When I launched my campaign in 2018, voters — especially young people — kept bringing the idea of sports wagering up as one of their top priorities. As someone who doesn’t follow sports much beyond Jayhawk basketball, Chiefs football, and Royals baseball, I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn about this unprecedented court decision and what it could mean for Kansas.

Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have kept my promise to the residents in my district that have asked for sports wagering by focusing on advancing the issue.

In 2019, I served on the sports wagering subcommittee, where we almost unanimously recommended a version of the bill that was signed into law earlier this month. For three years, I also had a front-row seat pushing for sports wagering on the Federal & State Affairs committee, where the bill originated.

Since 2018, calls to legalize sports betting have increased each year as neighboring states have adopted this popular practice of allowing residents to predict sports results and place wagers on the outcome.

More recently, voters made the case to legislators about how much revenue we missed out on in Kansas by not having legal sports betting during the 2020 Chief’s Super Bowl title run or amid the KU men’s basketball team’s march to the 2022 NCAA national championship.

So, something this popular among voters of all political persuasions surely sailed through the legislative process, right?

Unfortunately, legalizing sports wagering faced hurdle after hurdle before finally garnering the support to pass the Senate by a single vote and overcome several procedural obstacles in the House, ultimately passing there 73-49.

All of this was after at least three informational hearings, an interim committee in summer 2018 to study the issue, six bill hearings, five subcommittee meetings and briefings and at least six days of committee action before finally advancing to the floor for votes.

Kansas residents that have called, emailed or met with their legislators to advocate for sports wagering are the winners here. They bet on our Legislature to do something bold, forward-thinking and popular among voters of all political affiliations. And they won.

Please continue reaching out about issues that are important to you. I can be reached at Brandon.Woodard@house.ks.gov or on Twitter and Facebook.