Sure, Kansas is known as a basketball-loving state first and foremost, but that doesn’t mean high-quality football can’t be found in Kansas. After all, Kansas boasts two top-level university teams (though admittedly one of which has been something of a national embarrassment throughout the 2010s) and a thriving high-school football system.
In terms of betting, most forms of gambling have been outlawed or made special provision for in Kansas. Despite its legendary reputation as a gambling hotspot of the Old West, legal betting in Kansas is fairly well limited to the nine casinos spread throughout the state. On the other hand, betting on sports online in Kansas is more popular than ever by all accounts, and law enforcement is noticeably lax in trying to impart the unenforceable.
Betting in Kansas
Naturally, the history of legalized gambling in Kansas formally (if by no means legally) began in the land’s days as a territory ripe for settlement. Emblematic of betting in Kansas in the Wild West days was Dodge City, a town first based around a military encampment which later benefitted from its station on the newly-built Santa Fe Railroad line.
In 1872, the first “bar” (really just a burlap tent with alcohol supplies) was established in the town – and the bettors would come soon thereafter. Within 10 years, Dodge City was known throughout the ‘States for the vice, gunfighting and general Wild West-ness about the frontier town. In 1883, the town’s mayor was disturbed enough by the purveyors of alcohol, gambling and prostitution the he declared war on the largest and most notorious of ‘em all, the Long Branch Saloon.
Unfortunately, the Long Branch had a virtual all-star team of lawmen, including Dodge City sheriff Wyatt Earp and his deputy Bat Masterson. Nevertheless, the Long Branch’s owner left town and all vice-related activities were temporarily banned in 1883, but the mayor soon folded under pressure from the Santa Fe Railroad Company (!) and the state governor (!!!) to reopen the notorious joints in ’84. By the end of the 1880s, however, such establishments were no longer doing business in Dodge City or most anywhere in Kansas due to a number of reasons, including expansion of the frontier and new economic emphasis on the agriculture trade.
Lawmakers wasted no time in outlawing gambling, illegalizing all games of chance some 10 years before the “progressives” spread the word (and law) of prohibition on alcohol and gambling throughout the country.
Things in Kansas were quiet on the gambling law front until 1974, when charity-based games were finally legally permitted; in 1984, a state lottery was approved and implemented. After a referendum on allowing pari-mutuel betting on horse racing was approved by voters in ’86, the Kansas Racing Commission was established in ’87. State legislators reached an agreement on a compact that would allow Native American tribes to open casinos on reservation land in 1995 under auspices of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
Finally, Kansas was among the 35 states to open virtual doors to daily fantasy football betting and other DFS games in 2014-15.
Football in Kansas
Basketball may be king in Kansas, but when football season starts in autumn, TVs on Saturdays across the state are tuned in to University of Kansas Jayhawks and/or Kansas State Wildcats, both of whom have histories spanning back to the 19th century and today compete in the Big 12 conference of FBS college football.
The University of Kansas first fielded a football team in 1890 and by ’92 had won its first conference title, topping the short-lived Western Interstate University Football Association. Their first bowl game appearance for the ’Hawks came in 1947, when the Jayhawks lost 20-14 to Georgia Tech. They’d redeem themselves by tromping Rice in Houston, 33-7, in the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl.
The Jayhawks have yet to win a national championship and have finished regular seasons in the top 10 thrice since 1947: in 1968, 1995 and 2007. In these latter two seasons, the team ascended to the no. 2 spot in AP polling/BCS rankings.
Since the end of the Mark Mangino era in 2009, however, the football Jayhawks have hit on some mighty lean times. Kansas has not received a bowl invite since the W. administration and the team’s all-time winning percentage has fallen below .500. Since Mangino’s departure, a string of spectacularly incompetent coaches have occupied the boss position in Kansas: The “run” goes from Turner Gill to Charlie Weis to Clint Bowen to David Beatty. Gill’s 1-10 mark against Big 12 teams was “topped” by the 5-22 record Weis inspired over his 2¼ seasons as Kansas head coach. As an interim coach, Bowen made a pretty fair defensive coordinator and went 1-7.
All this may have been clearing the path for the ultimate bottoming-out of Jayhawks football, though. In 2015, Bowen was named assistant head coach for his fine work as HC in ’14 while Texas A&M wide receivers coach (!) David Beatty was brought aboard. The Jayhawks promptly went 0-12. By early ’17, Kansas had received a 43-0 beatdown at the hands of the TCU Horned Frogs in which the clock was running continuously throughout the fourth quarter. Dan LeBatard of ESPN promptly teed off, dubbing Jayhawks football a “the most incompetent thing that I’ve seen in major sports.” As though to prove LeBatard correct, the 2017 Kansas Jayhawks chased an opening-week win with an 11-game losing streak to finish 1-11.
So … how about them Wildcats? Kansas State football has hardly the historical highlights of its state mate – all-time, they’re a dismal 526–640–41 all-time (for a .436 winning percentage) going into the 2018 season – but K-State has enjoyed Jayhawk-enviable success in the 1990s and into the 21st century, clearly denoting them as a team on the upswing.
After being also-rans for essentially the first century of the team’s existence, the K-State Wildcats broke into the AP poll in 1993, going 9-2-1 and torching the Wyoming Cowboys in the Copper Bowl, 52-17. This would be the first of the Wildcats’ 20 bowl game appearances in 22 seasons. In addition, the ’Cats have claimed Big 12 titles twice (in 2003 and ’12) and seven final top-10 finishes (all between 1998 and 2012).
NFLbets would definitely say that K-State is the future and, until the miracle hire happens in Lawrence, Kansas is the past.
Betting on Football in Kansas
Gauging the political climate among state legislators vis-à-vis betting on football in Kansas would require a far greater political barometer than anything NFLbets has at our disposal. The outlook is decidedly mixed at present, though state policies in the 2010s have been incredibly bullish on gambling – but for reasons contrary to much of the U.S.
Expansion of casino gambling in Kansas is naturally seen as a swell revenue generator for state and local governments, but local politicians are always careful to point out that such expansion of the law would explicitly be for the benefit of the state’s horse racing industry. Whereas most states with “racinos” naturally apply tax revenue to racing, Kansans have heretofore been explicit about the one-use nature of such revenues.
Which puts speculation of whether legal betting might expand in Kansas in a gray area.
The state gaming commission oversees the issuance of licenses for casino operations, as is fairly well standard in the U.S. Of note in Kansas state law is that local politicos have actually addressed the legality of online betting. In 2009, then-Kansas attorney general Stephen Six oversaw a legal study which concluded that internet gambling was to be considered illegal in the state under current law. However, a 2013 bill which was explicitly illegalize internet gambling was defeated in the state senate.
Which keeps betting on football and other sports in a legal gray area. Wait and see, we suppose; sorry we can’t offer more, but quite literally your guess in as good as ours on this state.