Kansas Lottery officials expect to see a large spike in bets placed for the Super Bowl. But the state will only get a small amount of the revenue generated from the big game — if the state-owned casinos make any money at all.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s gambling choices could cost the state money if the Kansas City football team wins the Super Bowl. But don’t sweat it — the stakes are low.
Sports bookies like the state make money off losing bets. They try to set odds so the amount bet for or against a team winning (or a point total or even the coin toss) roughly equals out. That’s harder to do on a big game with a local team involved.
Bettors in Kansas, putting their money where their hearts are, are counting on Kansas City to win. If they’re right, the game could be one of those rare times when the casinos and the state actually pay out more winnings than the losing bets they pocket on newly legal sports betting.
But legal sports gambling in Kansas makes so little revenue for the state that Kansans can root for Kansas City to win on Sunday and happily watch Kelly and so many other KC fans cash in on a win by the local team.
During her kickoff of the state’s legal sports gambling operation in September, Kelly placed a $15 bet to win $150 of what could have been the state’s money if the hometown team went all the way to an NFL championship.
Many Kansans are making that same kind of bet heading into what is already the biggest sports gambling day of the year. Cory Thone, a spokesperson for the Kansas Lottery, said the state doesn’t have an estimate for how much money will be wagered in Kansas for this year’s big game, but it will likely be millions or even tens of millions.
“We’re eager to see what it looks like,” Thone said, “because it’s our first time having sports betting in the state during the Super Bowl. And wouldn’t you know it, the Chiefs are in there.”
However, the vast majority of the money generated from sports gambling in Kansas goes to the private companies that manage the state-sponsored casinos. The state, on the other hand, takes in just 10% of the profits off sports bets. If one of the casinos takes in $1 million off losing bets, the state gets only $100,000.
So Kelly — who placed her bet while wearing a jacket emblazoned with a logo of one of those private companies — could see a payout 10 times what she wagered. The state, in contrast, would only get a one-tenth of what the casinos win on the same betting event. And with lopsided local betting on KC, a Kansas City win might actually make a rare loser out of the casinos — and the state.
The state’s portion is also less than half of what it takes from traditional gambling, like slot machines and blackjack. The casinos fork over 27% of that revenue. But Thone said more operational costs go into sports betting, which offers the additional option of placing bets online.
Regardless, those funds aren’t much more than a rounding error in the state’s budget. Officials estimate sports gambling will generate up to $10 million a year. That’s barely 0.1% of the state’s $9.5 billion general fund budget.
Daniel Wallach, a Florida-based attorney specializing in regulating sports betting, said the revenue Kansas takes home from its operation is in line with most of the other states with legal sports betting. He said the average is between 10 and 15%.
“So they are on the low side of the average,” Wallach said.
The American Gaming Association estimates $16 billion in legal wagers will be placed on the Super Bowl nationally. The revenue generated from that number will be much smaller. In 2022, Kansas casinos oversaw $718 million in sports wagers. That only netted taxpayers $2 million.
Other factors may lead to a spike in bets placed in Kansas. Some neighboring states still don’t have legal sports betting, including the team’s home in Missouri. The Missouri Independent reports more than 220,000 people in Missouri tried to place 8.7 million bets during the NFL season.
Wallach said Kansas will likely see many Missouri and Oklahoma residents cross the border to gamble.
But how much the state makes off the Super Bowl will also depend on the results of the game. Thone said 80% of the Super Bowl bets in Kansas favor the local team. That’s a massive amount of bets on one side and it leads to casinos adjusting lines and odds to minimize their risk.
Still, Wallach said a KC victory could mean the casinos take a hit, and the state won’t get much of anything. Something like that happened a few years ago in Rhode Island when the New England Patriots were in the big game. The state lottery saw an inordinate amount of money on the local team that ultimately won.
“The lottery lost money on the Super Bowl,” Wallach said. “Maybe the Kansas Lottery is going to be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles.”
Dylan Lysen reports on politics for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanLysen or email him at dlysen (at) kcur (dot) org.
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