New sports book opens at Kansas Star Casino: Former NFL star helps launch Kansas sports betting

Jeff Lowich of Fanduel addresses the media during last week’s official opening of the sports book at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. Fanduel has partnered with Boyd Gaming, owner of Kansas Star, to providing betting on sports in the Wichita area.

By Travis Mounts, TSnews

With a $20 bet on the Kansas State Wildcats to win the Big 12 football championship, former NFL star and K-State legend Jordy Nelson kicked off sports betting in Kansas.
Nelson was joined by officials from the Kansas Star Casino, Boyd Gaming and Fanduel, as well as state gaming officials, at the casino, which is technically located in Mulvane thanks to creative zoning but is just a few minutes outside of both Haysville and Clearwater.
“Today, sports betting officially comes to Kansas,” said Jeff Lowich, vice president of retail operations at FanDuel.
Sports betting actually started on Sept. 1 with a soft opening. Sept. 8 marked the official opening, just in time for the start of the National Football League season.
Boyd Gaming, based in Las Vegas, Nev., owns and operates the Kansas Star Casino and has casino operations around Vegas and in eight other states. Keith Henson, senior vice president of operations, spoke highly of Kansans’ anticipation for sports betting.
“Nowhere have we had such excitement as we have in Kansas,” Henson said. “We couldn’t be more excited to have this in Kansas at Kansas Star Casino.”
The sports book at Kansas Star Casino features 2,100 square feet of gaming space, a large video wall, four betting windows and 20 self-serve kiosks. According to Boyd officials, Kansas Star was one of only two sports books to have soft openings last week.
Kansas will have four casinos that offer sports bets: Boot Hill Casino and Resort near Dodge City, Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel in Pittsburg, and Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. Boot Hill Casino previously announced it has partnered with national gambling apps DraftKings and Bally’s Corporation to provide online sports betting in Kansas.
The start date comes months after a new law went into effect July 1 allowing people over the age of 21 to bet on sports. Gov. Laura Kelly signed the bill into law in May. Kansas lawmakers narrowly approved the bill this year after close, late-night votes in both the House and Senate in April.
The start of betting was delayed because the Kansas Lottery needed to finalize regulations, including creating a specific process for casinos to apply to offer sports gambling in certain ways, such as through a smartphone app.
The Kansas Lottery is outsourcing the sports gambling operations to the casinos in Kansas. Those casinos will be allowed to launch online and in-person betting operations.
Bettors will need to be within the state of Kansas to place a wager. Sports teams and events may also allow for gambling at stadiums if they enter a marketing agreement with the casinos. Lawmakers specifically noted Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park and the Kansas Speedway – which are both located near Hollywood Casino – as candidates.
State Sen. Larry Alley (R-Winfield) was in attendance. The casino lies within his district, the 32nd Senate District.
Alley said he is not a bettor but that the addition of sports gaming is a positive for those who enjoy betting on sports.
“It’s been coming for some time. This is exciting. It’s exciting for Kansas,” Alley said. “It’s interesting to see the excitement that’s here today.”
Nelson’s $20 bet will pay out $250 if the Wildcats win the Big 12 championship. Nelson played for K-State from 2003 to 2007. He spent 11 seasons in the NFL, most of them with the Green Bay Packers. He won both a Big 12 championship and the Super Bowl.
Nelson encouraged responsible gambling as he placed his $20 bet.
“It’s a responsible bet. It’s enough to make it entertaining,” he said. “It’s another way for fans to be part of the games and make it more exciting on the weekends.”
Nelson, who was born in Manhattan and attended Riley County High School, said his fondest playing memory was winning the Super Bowl.
When asked how he wanted his career to be remembered, he left that up to fans.
“I enjoyed it, our family enjoyed it,” he said. “I’d be more intrigued by what they have to say.”
Nelson said he was enjoying being a fan himself again after so many years as a player.
Editor’s note: Additional reporting from the Kansas News Service’ Dylan Lysen was used in this story.

Travis Mounts/TSnews
Jordy Nelson, a Kansas State Wildcats legend and Super Bowl winner with the Green Bay Packers, shows off the first bet at the new sports book at the Kansas Star Casino. Nelson put $20 on the Wildcats football team to win the Big 12 conference.