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Kansas Online Poker Laws

Online poker has undergone a lot of legislative changes throughout the United States in the last 7 years. The passage of the UIGEA in 2006 was meant to officially prohibit all forms of online gambling on American soil, although it failed to do so for several years. The Department of Justice declared internet wagering to be illegal by way of the Federal Wire Act of 1961, and went so far as to seize control of the domain names of the top three online poker operators in the world, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. That occurred on April 15, 2011; a date that has since been dubbed the Black Friday of Online Poker.

In another move that stunned the nation, the DOJ completely reversed its stance in December of 2011, ruling that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting. Thus individual states were given the option to legalize and regulate online poker and casino amusements as they saw fit. Three states, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, have chosen to regulate online gaming within their singular borders, and others are considering it. But the question we aim to answer today regards the legality of online poker in Kansas. Is it legal, and if not, what are the chances law makers will pass legislation to regulate online poker in Kansas?

Legality of Online Poker Kansas

The Sunflower State is known for a lot of things – like sunflowers. Among them is a wide range of land-based gambling opportunities. In the days of the old west, Dodge City was a hub for frontiersmen to gather, rest up and play a wide range of gambling activates, with card games being the most popular. While legislation has changed a lot over the years, gambling is still a way of life in the state.

Kansas is home to numerous state regulated land-based casinos and tribal casinos, as well as racing parks, where pari-mutuel is encouraged. Residents and tourists are privy to the usual suspects; slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, craps, etc. Each casino has its own poker room as well, offering tournaments and cash games of Texas Hold’em, Omaha and beyond. Kansas also hosts its own multi-million dollar state lottery.

It’s obvious that Kansas state officials are not opposed to the concept of gambling as a way to generate tax dollars. However, law makers in the Sunflower State have yet to address the issue of “online” poker and casino gambling in any formal sense. As such, it’s hard to define whether or not playing poker online in Kansas is considered a crime or a legitimate pastime.

Next, we will examine the literature of Kansas’ gambling laws, what they mean for online poker players in the state and whether or not regulation could be on the horizon.

Kansas Statutes – Gambling

The following text is taken directly from the Kansas Statutes, Chapter 21, Title 4302. Note that some of the text has been omitted due to lack of relevance or a desire to maintain fluency without changing the direct meaning.

21-4302 Gambling Definitions

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. A bet does not include:

(1)  Bona fide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts…

(2)  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;

(3)  a lottery as defined in this section;

(4)  any bingo game [legal by Kansas law]…

(5)  a [state run] lottery…

(6)  any [state regulated] system of parimutuel wagering…

(7)  tribal gaming.

Gambling Device: means:

(1)  Any so-called “slot machine” or any other [similar] machine… which when operated may deliver, as the result of chance, any money or property…

(2)  any other machine… equipped with or designed to accommodate the addition of a mechanism that enables accumulated credits [to be won]…  as the result of chance…

Gambling Place: [means] any place, room, building, vehicle, tent or location which is used for… settling bets; receiving, holding, recording or forwarding bets or offers to bet; conducting lotteries; or playing gambling devices…

KS 21-4303 Crimes and Punishment

Gambling is:

(a) Making a bet; or

(b) Entering or remaining in a gambling place with intent to make a bet, to participate in a lottery, or to play a gambling device.

Gambling is a class B nonperson misdemeanor.

If you wish to read more of the gambling regulations within the Kansas Statutes, please use the links above. We’ve only included those laws that may pertain to online poker.

What does it all mean? Is online poker illegal in Kansas?

The interesting factor here is that Kansas law specifically states that gambling is placing a bet on a game of chance. Bona fide contests of skill are omitted from illegal gambling definitions. As many of you know, a federal judge declared poker a game of skill in August of 2012. There are no online poker laws in Kansas; nothing that refers to using the internet, and the definition of a gambling device points directly towards machines and devices that are designed for the specific purpose of gambling, not computers, mobile devices or tablets which have many other primary dedications. In addition, the definition of a “gambling place” refers to host of a physical locations. With all of this in mind, we tend to lead towards online poker not being against the law.

On the other hand, “making a bet” is a class B misdemeanor, and logically speaking, playing online poker for real money is clearly making a bet. Considering all of the information, it’s hard to clarify whether or not online poker is truly legal in Kansas, but we do know there are no known cases of a person being charged with illegal online poker in the state. The fact is people in Kansas are logging on to offshore poker sites and playing card games every day. To be fair, we must advise residents of the Sunflower State to consult with their local authorities for a more reliable response to the question of online poker legalities.

Is Kansas working to regulate online poker?

Unfortunately, online poker regulation has yet to arise as a topic of conversation among state law makers in Kansas. Chances are that will change as more and more states look to online gambling for additional revenue in their tax coffers, but for now it’s little more than an exhausting waiting game.