A lobbyist for a Kansas City casino on Tuesday cautioned lawmakers working through questions surrounding legalized sports gambling not to let the state take on the risk of running its own book.
Whitney Damron, a representative for Hollywood Casino, said New Jersey and Rhode Island lost millions of dollars on the low-scoring Super Bowl earlier this month.
He told a House subcommittee that existing casinos, not the Kansas Lottery, should operate mobile applications for sports wagering.
"We don't think the state of Kansas should take on that risk," Damron said. "We don't think the headline after the Super Bowl should read, 'Patriots win another Super Bowl, state of Kansas loses $3 million.'"
The panel is gathering feedback on who should get a piece of the action for sports gambling in Kansas before making recommendations to a full committee.
Casinos anticipate profits will amount to 5 percent of bets placed on sports. Lawmakers are considering a 6.75 percent tax on those profits. That means the state would get 33 cents on a $100 bet.
Rep. Renee Erickson, R-Wichita, asked why casinos are interested in assuming the risk of sports gaming.
"There seems to be very little money in sports wagering itself," she said, "so am I missing something behind the motivation for wanting to provide this from a casino's perspective?"
Damron said it would attract more people to casinos. A couple could go to the casino so the husband can play a sports book while his wife plays the slots.
Kevin Fowler, a Topeka attorney representing Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, said brick and mortar businesses are trying to figure out ways to state relevant. By providing mobile betting apps, he said, they can make money while a customer watches the game at Buffalo Wild Wings.
"I can't imagine that any Kansan is looking forward to the day when they can say the state's my bookie," Fowler said.
He also cautioned against giving major leagues their requested "integrity fee," which no other state has provided. The leagues are asking for a quarter of a percent, but Fowler said that would be applied to all money wagered. As a percentage of profit, it would be more like 5 to 7 percent.
Besides, he said, the leagues already stand to make billions off of gambling through sponsorships and increased engagement.
Representatives for convenience stores and restaurants also asked the panel for permission to provide on-site sports gambling.
Scott Schneider, of the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said Buffalo Wild Wings in particular has expressed interested in getting into the arena.
"Give them a portal. Give them a kiosk. Give them something that doesn't drive dollars away," Schneider said.
Rachel Willis, of the Humane Society Legislative Fund of Kansas, spoke on behalf of a coalition of animal rights groups who oppose a portion of proposed legislation that would allow for greyhound racetracks to resume operations.
Willis said the public's disdain for dog racing has galvanized in the decade after the last track closed in Kansas.
"The public has rejected this activity," she said.