On the Sidelines in Kansas: Where Are All the Other Sportsbooks?

In recent remarks, executives for five operators — BetRivers, Fubo, Hard Rock, SI Sportsbook, and WynnBET — say they’ll wait before jumping into Kansas’ small market.
On the Sidelines in Kansas: Where Are All the Other Sportsbooks?
By
September 09, 2022

Six sports betting operators have launched in Kansas — and another three are waiting in the wings — but one question on the minds of regulators, casinos, and other stakeholders is: Where is everyone else?

On September 1, six operators were approved to soft-launch their sports betting services in the state, including some of the biggest names in US sports betting. BetMGM Sports, DraftKings Sports, FanDuel, Barstool, Caesars and PointsBet all launched mobile sports betting. Four also opened new retail locations within casinos in the state.

After a week’s trial period, on September 8, these sites all officially opened their doors, coinciding with the starting day of the NFL season.

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To be sure, Kansas was probably unlikely to generate a lot of enthusiasm from operators, considering the state ranks 36th in terms of population (2.9 million). That makes the Sunflower State bigger than West Virginia but smaller than Nevada.

Over the last several months, five operators — BetRivers, Fubo Sportsbook, Hard Rock Sportsbook, SI Sportsbook, and WynnBET — have been mentioned as late market entrants in Kansas. But as the market goes live on September 8, these five are nowhere to be found.

Here’s where they currently stand.

BetRivers

During a Rush Street Interactive (RSI) earnings call last month, an analyst asked CEO Richard Schwartz if the company planned to launch its BetRivers brand in Kansas or three other states without online casino gaming: Maryland, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

“Every state is unique,” Schwartz said during the August 4 call. “We don’t just have a single approach for every state. We are considering the likelihood of adding iCasino in those markets as well as overlaps with other states.

“The strategy is to typically look around the competitive set, look at the tax rate, look at the adjacent markets, look at the time of the year when the launch is happening — and make those decisions based on all of those criteria.”

On Wednesday, RSI told US Gaming Review that the company “hasn’t made any announcements regarding Kansas.”

Fubo Sportsbook

Fubo Sportsbook — which just launched in its third state, New Jersey, on Wednesday — does not have a market access deal in Kansas, according to its most recent investor day presentation, which was dated August 17. Fubo is also live in Arizona and Iowa.

Deliah Mathieu, a spokeswoman for Fubo, said the operator currently has market access agreements in Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas — but not Kansas.

“The launch of Fubo Sportsbook in additional markets is subject to various factors, including obtaining requisite approvals, and in certain jurisdictions, enactment of legislation,” Mathieu said Wednesday.

Hard Rock Sportsbook

Hard Rock, which is privately owned, currently does not have any properties in Kansas. But that’s not for a lack of trying.

The company announced plans to build a hotel tower and conference center — but not a casino — in 2018. The facility would have been built in Edwardsville, a Kansas City suburb. The Hard Rock Hotel would have been a stone’s throw from the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.

But the project stalled. A bank that was involved with the project alleged that the developer had committed fraud and took the matter to court.

Had the project moved forward, it’s possible that Hard Rock could have partnered with Hollywood as its third sports betting skin — with the Hard Rock Hotel serving as a venue to advertise the platform, assuming the property didn’t evolve into a commercial casino in the future.

SI Sportsbook

888 Holdings launched a Sports Illustrated (SI)-themed sportsbook in Michigan on Wednesday. Michigan is the third state with an SI Sportsbook, following launches in Colorado and Virginia.

During an earnings presentation last month, CEO Itai Pazner said SI Sportsbook “should be live in four states” by the end of 2023, but he didn’t identify the fourth state.

The fourth state is likely New Jersey — 888 pulled down its own branded sportsbook, 888sport, in the Garden State in December 2021 in order to roll out SI Sportsbook, but has not launched the replacement yet.

WynnBET

During a Q2 2022 earnings call on August 9, Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings was asked if the company would enter states where it doesn’t currently have a land-based presence — like Kansas.

“Well, we are continuing to launch in additional states,” Billings said. “And we’re continuing to set the foundation in place to grow that business over time as the [total addressable market] grows and as our business grows.”

But Billings said the company would focus on Massachusetts first “for obvious reasons. We have the land-based presence there. [We have] seen market share from fellow market participants in places where they have a brick-and-mortar presence, and it obviously warrants prioritizing Massachusetts.”

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