Kansas Legal Poker

Last Update: March 20, 2015

Online Poker

In April 2013, the Kansas Senate considered an overhaul to its byzantine gambling laws that would have included a provision criminalizing online gambling. Although the overhaul was ultimately defeated for other reasons by a 24-15 vote, there was strong support for the online gambling ban, which was added by amendment late in the process on the strength of a 26-11 vote.

To date, there is no record of any Kansas legislator ever introducing a bill to legalize and regulate online poker. Nor is there any record of a bill seeking explicitly to criminalize and prohibit it. That leaves players and operators guessing as to whether online poker is legal or not.

As in many other states without laws addressing the matter, the fact that Kansas requires permitted forms of gambling to be explicitly authorized, in combination with broad definitions of “bet” and “gambling” as noted above, would at least suggest that online poker is illegal. However, Kansas’ reliance on gambling being “dependent on chance”, and the usual jurisdictional caveat regarding computer servers that are not present in the state as being the possible situs of any betting or gambling, makes this a decidedly gray area of Kansas law.

We were not able to find any record of an Internet poker prosecution in Kansas.

Live Poker

It’s amusing at times to see the hoops that state legislators will jump through in order to allow gambling within their states without running afoul of anti-gambling laws. So it is in Kansas. Article 15, Sections 3, 3a and 3b of the Kansas state constitution prohibit lotteries but permit bingo and horse and dog racing. Section 3c, enacted much later, allows for a state lottery in certain circumstances.

In 2007 the state passed the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act, a euphemism if there ever was one. It allows the state lottery to create “lottery gaming facilities”, run either by Kansas Native American tribes or (ultimately) by the state itself. And that is how you get state lotteries operating full-blown casinos, complete with all manners of casino games including live poker.

As of early 2013 there are four tribal casinos operating in the state, and another three casinos that are operated by the state itself. Several of them offer live poker.

Home games do not appear to qualify under any exception in Kansas’ criminal gambling statutes. They are therefore probably illegal, assuming that they are “dependent upon chance” under the law). However, prosecutions have never been reported.

Legal Poker By State