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House raises stakes by adding retailers to sports betting bill
11th March, 21:49Abilene greyhound breeder Tracy Wildey said Wednesday raising racing dogs was in her blood.
And, she said, Kansas should adopt a sports gambling bill that opened a door to resumption of racing at defunct tracks in Kansas and restored the economic development and entertainment potential of the speedy breed.
"It is an honor to get to deal with these magnificent creatures each and every day," said Wildey, who operates Seastrom Kennels. "I wish to express my support for House Bill 2671, primarily because it will give an opportunity for live, pari-mutuel greyhound racing to return to Kansas."
The Kansas Senate passed a sports wagering bill that directed all sports wagering business to the state's four casinos, but the House Federal and State Affairs Committee began exploration of an alternative that would bring lottery retailers into the mix and potentially provide an opening for the horse and dog racing industries.
Supporters of the bill developed by Rep. John Barker, an Abilene Republican and chairman of the House committee, lined up to praise the measure. The roster included the dog and horse racing fans and the convenience store lobby, in part, because it would authorize sports betting to 1,200 lottery retailers.
On Thursday, opponents of Barker's bill will be allowed to take center stage.
Whitney Damron, who represents operators of Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., said the House bill's objective of placing the Kansas Lottery in alliance with lottery ticket retailers created an unnecessary conflict. The state lottery shouldn't be the contractor and operator of this type of sports wagering and shouldn't stand as a regulator in competition with the casinos, he said.
The House bill also would impose a much higher tax than the Senate's version on businesses involved in sports betting in Kansas, he said.
"All of which will reduce the incentive for those gaming illegally to transition to legal sports wagering in Kansas, which is one of the primary goals of this legislation," Damron said.
Jeff Rutland, over of Rutland Ranch in Independence, said the horse racing industry to the Woodlands and other tracks had the potential of restoring an important industry in Kansas. That won't happen until lawmakers reduce the tax on racetrack revenue from the 40% in existing law to the 22% assessed on casino revenue, he said.
"That's right," he said, "it's important for you to understand this clearly. Amending this bill to allow the Woodlands to operate successfully will bring back an economic driver that will create well over a $200 million economic impact on rural Kansas."