The Topeka Capital-Journal recently reported on their website (cjonline.co) that the Kansas Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would lower the state’s taxes on gambling revenue. The bill was introduced to provide incentives for investors looking to reopen four shuttered dog and horse tracks across Kansas. The facilities were housed in Sedgwick, Wyandotte, and Crawford counties. The horse racing betting industry in Kansas has taken a hit in recent years.
Why Does The Kansas Senate Reject Lower Gambling Revenue For Their State?
The decision on this measure took place last Friday according to this report. After four hours of heated debate over the merits of this bill, the state’s Senators voted it down by a count of 20-17. An amendment to the bill would have potentially brought eSports betting to Kansas Lottery retailers. As a side note to this report, the US Supreme Court has yet to rule on a pending case that could declare start-by-state sport betting prohibitions unconstitutional.
Reduction In Revenue From Legalized Slot Machines?
The main thrust of the bill before the Kansas Senate was a reduction in the percentage of revenue the state derived from legalized slot machines. Going back to a law from 2007, the reduction would have been from the current 40 percent cut to 22 percent. This would have equalized the revenue from gambling revenue from dog and horse tracks with the 22 percent the state takes in from four casinos it owns. Over the past decade, none of the racetracks that were deemed eligible for slot machines have even opened their doors.
State Senator Bruce Givens was quoted in this report as saying, “It creates the opportunity to, what I like to call, right the wrong. The wrong was when the Legislature raised the tax share from 22 percent to 40 percent. Under the bill, they would be at the same 22 percent.”
Phil Ruffin From Wichita Greyhound Speaks
Also mentioned in this report is billionaire businessman Phil Ruffin as the owner of Wichita Greyhound Park near Park City. He also owns the Woodlands in Kansas City, Kansas and Camptown Greyhound in Frontenac. He has routinely argued that the viability of ‘racinos’ to remain profitable while paying 40 percent to the state on slot machine revenue would not be possible.
The proposed bill would have also given Sedgwick County residents the opportunity to approve a measure to bring slots to its racetracks after turning down that opportunity in the past. Senate President Susan Wagle went onto to add that she believed the residents would support gambling at racetracks this time around because “this is good economic development for the state.”
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The Kansas Lottery And Casino Operators
Critics of the bill pointed towards a 2016 legal opinion as for the sticking point. The report details how Attorney General Derek Schmidt stated that an amendment to the state’s gambling law would be in violation of the contract that was already in force between the Kansas Lottery and casino operators. It was also stated in this report that the new bill could open the doors for lawsuits from the management of the four state-owned casinos for loss of revenue and market share from slots at dog and horse tracks in the state.