Most forms of gambling are legal in some fashion or another in Kansas.
Legal KS gambling began with bingo in the 1970s and expanded to include horse racing and a state lottery over the next decade.
Tribal gaming began in 1995 and commercial casinos were authorized in 2007 with the passage of the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act. Commercial casinos are owned and operated by the state lottery but are managed by private enterprises such as Penn National and Boyd Gaming.
Daily fantasy sports apps were formally legalized and regulated with legislation approved in 2015 to round out the list of legal forms of gaming. Today, the following types of gambling are legal in Kansas:
- Lottery: Instant win games and lotto tickets sold at retailers and kiosks
- Charitable gaming: Bingo and raffles operated by registered charities
- Horse racing betting: Mobile (in-person also permitted but no racetracks are in operation today)
- Casinos: Commercial and tribal casinos
- Daily fantasy sports: Online / mobile
Online Gambling in Kansas
Two forms of online gaming are available in Kansas. Online racing betting (advance deposit wagering) is not specifically covered by KS law, but the nation’s major horse racing websites do accept customers from Kansas.
The following racing betting sites are headquartered in the United States, hold licenses in other states to conduct advance deposit wagering and accept Kansas customers:
Fantasy sports contests are legal under KS law and all the big-name fantasy operators accept customers from Kansas:
- Monkey Knife Fight
Online Gambling Law
Kansas law does not specifically mention online gambling, but existing law is sufficient to criminalize participating in any form of unsanctioned gambling wherever it may take place.
K.S.A. § 21-6404 classifies gambling as “making a bet” or entering a gambling place with the intention to make a bet a Class B non-person misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
This statute could easily be applied to patronizing offshore gambling sites, although law enforcement is not known to hunt down individuals who play at unlicensed gambling sites. Even so, we recommend Kansans avoid such sites because there is still some legal risk and offshore gambling sites are completely unregulated.
Casinos in Kansas take two forms. A handful of tribal casinos operate on Indiana land under compacts formed with the state in the mid-90s. There are also a handful of commercial casinos that are owned by the lottery but managed by commercial operators.
All games typically found in a casino are licensed in Kansas. This includes slots, video poker, live poker, blackjack, craps, baccarat, roulette and proprietary house-banked card games. There is no bet limit in Kansas.
|Boot Hill Casino
4000 West Comanche Ave
|Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway
777 Hollywood Casino Blvd
|Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel
1275 S Highway 69
|Kansas Star Casino
777 Kansas Star Drive
|7th Street Casino
777 N 7th Street Trafficway
|Casino White Cloud
777 Jackpot Drive
|Golden Eagle Casino
1121 Goldfinch Road
|Prairie Band Casino & Resort
12305 150th Road
|Sac & Fox Casino
1322 US Hwy 75
State-operated casinos came to Kansas by way of legislative action. The Kansas Expanded Lottery Act gave the KS Lottery the authority to own and operate one casino in each of four gaming zones: southwest, south central, southeast and northeast.
The Kansas Lottery receives 27% of all gaming revenues from the four casinos and each management company receives the remaining 73%. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission regulates the state’s lottery casinos.
Kansas casinos are only permitted through 2022 as the original approval was only granted for a 15-year period. The Kansas Legislature must vote to extend that date in coming years or the state runs the risk of losing its entire casino industry.
Kansas Sports Betting
In-person and online sports betting are illegal in Kansas. There are no legal sportsbooks or betting apps at this time, although there is hope that may change at some point in the future.
Bills to legalize sports betting were introduced in the state legislature in both 2018 and 2019. HB 2752 in 2018 and HB 2068 in 2019 both sought to authorize the KS Lottery to offer sports betting via commercial casinos, lottery retailers and online through websites or mobile applications.
Both bills died before advancing very far in the lawmaking process, but the fact they were introduced in the first place for two years running shows there is some appetite for legal sports betting. Kansas will likely legalize sports betting sooner or later, but the issue is not a high priority item at this time.
Poker in Kansas
There are three poker rooms in Kansas. For those close to Kansas City, there are two more in Missouri.
The largest poker room in Kansas spreads twelve tables. The other two combine to offer eleven tables. Two of the casinos offer tournaments. All have cash games, mostly consisting of Texas Hold’em.
- Boot Hill Casino Poker Room: 3 tables, no-limit and fixed-limit Holdem cash games
- Hollywood Casino Poker Room: 12 tables, daily tournaments, no-limit up to $2/$5 with $1K buyin, fixed limit up to $25/$50, cash games for Texas Holdem, Omaha and mixed game formats
- Kansas Star Casino Poker Room: 8 tables, daily poker tournaments, no-limit Holdem and pot-limit Omaha cash games
Home Poker Games
Home poker games are not addressed by Kansas law, but existing laws appear to prohibit even private social games played at home. The legal definition of gambling does not make an exception for home poker games even if no rake is taken.
As such, it is considered a Class B nonperson misdemeanor to make a bet or enter a property with the intention of making a bet.
Fantasy Sports in Kansas
Fantasy sports are legal but unregulated in Kansas. State law specifically exempts fantasy contests from the legal definition of unlawful betting and fantasy operators are not obligated to apply for a license or pay any special taxes.
As a result, the major DFS sites all accept Kansas customers.
Fantasy Sports Law
Prior to 2015, daily fantasy sports operated in a legal grey area under Kansas law. During the pre-2015 years, there was much confusion over whether fantasy contests fell under the state’s definition of gambling or if they could be considered games of skill and therefore fully legal.
Major DFS sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings operated in the open during this time despite their legal status being unclear. At one point, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission opined the daily fantasy sports constitute illegal gambling, but the opinion held no legal weight and DFS operators ignored the finding.
The situation was finally resolved in 2015 when the Kansas Legislature passed HB 2155 dealing primarily with charity gaming and bingo. However, the bill also included a provision excluding daily fantasy sports contests from the state’s definition of an illegal bet.
Unlike many other states, Kansas does not regulate or license daily fantasy providers. Kansas law simply considers fantasy contests not to be gambling and therefore legal. This means there are no consumer regulations in place, but the major fantasy sites that serve Kansas are highly regulated by other states and are generally safe places to play.
Kansas Horse Racing
Horse and greyhound racing are legal in Kansas but there are no active racetracks in operation today as a result of declining attendance and increased competition from other forms of gambling. The last live race held in Kansas happened back in August 2008.
However, horse racing fans can still wager on horse and greyhound races held in other states through mobile betting sites that accept KS customers. KS law does not specifically address online racing betting, but most major operators interpret existing law as being friendly to their operations. As a result, Kansans can place wagers online with most major racing betting sites.
Kansas Horse Racing Betting Laws
Horse racing, greyhound racing and parimutuel wagering were approved by Kansas voters via referendum in 1986. Legislators followed up with the passage of the Kansas Parimutuel Racing Act in 1987, which can be found in K.S.A. § 74-8801 through 74-8839.
The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission (KRGC) is responsible for overseeing horse racing and commercial gambling, but notes all parimutuel licenses for horse and greyhound racing in KS have lapsed and been revoked.
The KS Lottery launched in 1987 with sales of instant win games and lottery drawings proving instantly popular. The first scratch-off game, Up and Away, sold $7 million worth of tickets in its first week.
Since then, the lottery has raised roughly $2 billion for the state and paid more than $3.3 billion back to players in the form of winnings.
Today, the KS Lottery offers instant win scratch tickets, pull tabs, keno, state-level drawing and multi-state drawings. Tickets may only be purchased at licensed retailers; the KS Lottery does not sell tickets online.
Keno drawings are held every four minutes, 23 hours a day with the only break being from 3 AM to 4 AM. The KS Lottery also hosts a virtual horse racing game called Racetrax that runs every five minutes from 4 AM to 2:50 AM seven days a week.
Intrastate Lotto Drawings
- Pick 3
- Super Kansas Cash
Interstate Lotto Drawings
- Mega Millions
- Lotto America
- Lucky for Life
State Lottery Law
The first $50 million of revenue generated by the lottery each year goes towards the Problem Gambling and Addictions Grant Fund, the Economic Development Initiatives Fund, the Correctional Institutions Building Fund and the Juvenile Detention Facilities Fund. All revenues in excess of $50 million are transferred to the State General Fund.
The KS Lottery also operates Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City, Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Hollywood Casino in Kansas City and Kansas Crossing Casino in Pittsburg.
Revenue generated by these casinos is distributed to the State of Kansas, the Problem Gambling & Addictions Grant Fund, local governments and each casino’s management company.
Games of Skill
Games of pure skill are legal in Kansas under an exemption to the legal definition of gambling. As such, traditional skill gaming sites that host player-vs-player competitions for money operate openly in Kansas and have had no legal issues to date.
K.S.A. § 21-6403 defines gambling as follows:
“Bet” means a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, one stands to win or lose something of value specified in the agreement.
Among other exemptions for fantasy sports, charitable bingo and business contracts, the KS law on gambling exempts contests of skill in which participants compete for money:
“A bet does not include… offers of purses, prizes or premiums to the actual contestants in any bona fide contest for the determination of skill, speed, strength or endurance or to the bona fide owners of animals or vehicles entered in such a contest…”
Online Skill Games
The most popular of these is WorldWinner.com, which hosts paid head-to-head matches and tournaments for games such as Scrabble, Bejeweled and other simple games of that nature.
Participating in paid esports competitions appears to be legal under KS law. Major esports betting sites such as PlayersLounge and GamerSaloon accept customers from Kansas.
We should note the above sites are for playing in head-to-head matchups or tournaments for a fee with cash prizes. In essence, you are betting on yourself. Esports betting sites that act like sportsbooks (betting on other people’s matches) constitute illegal gambling under KS law.
Kansas Gambling Laws
Generally, the way KS gambling laws work is that if a gambling activity is not expressly legal or does not take place inside a licensed casino, it is most likely illegal. Poker at casinos is legal, for example, but home poker games are not.
Some of the key pieces of gambling legislation in Kansas follow:
- Kansas Lottery Act
- Kansas Expanded Lottery Act (for the regulation of casinos and racinos)
- Kansas Parimutuel Racing Act (horse and greyhound betting)
- Criminal law; definition of gambling
Kansas bettors must be at least 18 years of age to participate in charitable gaming and lotteries. Horse racing and casino gaming requires players to be at least 21 years old.
The following departments regulate gambling in Kansas:
Charitable gaming was the first form of legalized gambling in Kansas. It was approved by voters in 1974.
Bingo and raffles are legal for Kansas charities. A Kansas charity does not need a license for raffles with a value of under $25,000. Larger operations pay a fee of up to $100, depending on sales, as noted on the Kansas Department of Revenue website.
Bingo operators must pay $25 for a license for the organization and $100 for each premise it conducts games. All charitable gaming groups must be recognized by the IRS or state of Kansas to participate.