The Kansas Racing & Gaming Commission (KRGC) has announced that sportsbooks have seen $1.5 billion in bets one year after the industry launched on September 1, 2022. That led to the state collecting $5.8 million in taxes, which far surpassed the $1.8 million projection for the industry’s first year. That revenue will go towards several funds, but nearly all of it ($4 million) is being used for a fund to attract a pro sports team to Kansas. Problem gambling and lottery funding will also receive some of the remaining revenue.
“This has been a pretty incredible year for sports in the Sunflower State,” Cory Thone of the Kansas Lottery said of their impressive first year. “KU and K-State, for example, in multiple sports were really good this year, exceeding expectations and everything else, making the [NCAA Men’s Basketball] Tournament, making bowl games. So, there has been a lot of sports excitement in the fall.”
The impressive numbers will lead to new projections for the next decade, but they could also lead to changes in tax revenue distribution. Most of that is used for a state fund to attract a pro sports team (mainly the Chiefs) to come to the state. That is a significant departure from many other states, which mostly use their funds for school or youth athletic programs. While the KRGC has said the uptick in problem gambling was slight, funds could be shifted towards those programs if those numbers rise in year two.
While the state lacks a pro sports team, they do have two major college sports programs: Kansas State and the University of Kansas. Both had impressive seasons in men’s basketball, and Kansas State’s football team finished second in the conference. On top of that, Kansas has seen better play from their long-struggling football team, drawing fans back in. The success of both schools has been a big part of Kansas’s impressive first-year numbers, and it should continue to boost tax revenue going forward.