Taylor Swift fans are betting on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. Kansas may not cash in
Excitement around Taylor Swift’s connection to the Chiefs is adding to what is already the biggest sports betting day of the year. But the state of Kansas, where sports gambling is legal, might end up with little tax revenue.
The Kansas City Chiefs are back in the Super Bowl, and extra excitement surrounding Taylor Swift has Kansas sports bettors again wagering millions of dollars on their local team to win.
But all that excitement and gambling may not translate to big tax collections for the state of Kansas.
So many bets placed in Kansas are for the Chiefs that it could mean the casinos in the state will have to pay out a lot of cash if the local team wins its third Super Bowl in five years. That also means the Kansas Lottery would collect its share of gambling tax revenue from a much smaller pie.
The Super Bowl is already the biggest sports gambling day of the year. The American Gaming Association predicts 68 million Americans will place bets on the game this year, totaling an estimated $23.1 billion of wagers. That’s a 35% increase from last year.
Additionally, Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas, is seeing a significant number of Missouri bettors crossing state lines to place legal wagers because the Show-Me State has not legalized sports gambling.
Tanner Rome, the sportsbook manager for Hollywood Casino, said celebrity culture is also driving bets. That’s because of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s high-profile relationship with pop star Taylor Swift.
While the casino’s customer base is mostly men, Rome said more women are getting in on the action — often placing bets on Kelce to score a touchdown.
“Now some of the girlfriends are coming up and betting on Kelce,” Rome said, “with all the Taylor Swift stuff going on.”
Swift may even attend the game, and some online casinos are trying to capitalize on the hype around the pop music superstar. NPR reports that BetOnline is offering many bets specifically related to Swift, such as a bet on whether she will be seen eating a hotdog.
Those strange bets — like how long it takes to sing the national anthem and which team wins the coin toss — are a Super Bowl tradition, but not in Kansas. Rome said state law actually prohibits those kinds of bets.
“If it doesn’t involve the game,” Rome said, “Kansas won’t allow bets on it.”
Meanwhile, the betting excitement won’t translate to big tax revenue collections if the Chiefs win. With so many bettors picking the chiefs to win, the casinos could end up paying out a large amount of cash. That will reduce the amount of money the casino see in profit.
Under the law, Kansas takes just 10% of the sports betting revenue. That’s much smaller than the 27% the state collects off of traditional gambling, like blackjack and slot machines.
The smaller portion on sports betting was a concern for some lawmakers. Republican Rep. Paul Waggoner opposed the bill that legalized sports betting in the state and called that arrangement a “bad deal” for Kansas.
Last year, the state saw $194 million in bets in February during the Super Bowl. The state earned just over $1,100 off the betting activity — a minuscule amount compared to the state’s $9 billion general fund budget.
Compare that to the rest of the year — the state earns an average of $1 million a month in gambling taxes — and it's easy to see that the Chiefs victory crashed the state’s expected gambling revenue last year. That could again happen this year.
But a Chiefs loss in the Super Bowl could reverse that trend. Cory Thone, a spokesperson for the Kansas Lottery, said the agency would have seen a pretty large spike in revenue if the Chiefs lost last year’s Super Bowl.
“However, we all agreed that it was well worth it for the win,” Thone said in an email. “Go Chiefs!”
Dylan Lysen reports on social services and criminal justice for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Threads @DylanLysen or email him at dlysen (at) kcur (dot) org.
The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.