Kentucky has moved a step closer to legalizing KY sports betting, with House Bill 551 moving through to the Senate Licensing Occupations Committee.
This is, however, alarmingly familiar territory for those involved in Kentucky legislature. Rep. Michael Meredith has prior outlined that he expected the bill to pass through the house with relative ease but will face a larger battle in the Senate, with limited time left, too.
Last year, a Kentucky House Bill related to sports betting made it through to the Senate, but failed to receive a single vote. Analysts are hopeful that this won’t be the case this time, and thus have given the bill a significantly higher chance of passing through the Senate and into law.
The bill has added in an allotment for problem gambling treatment following the recent round. Initially, Rep. Meredith had opposed the amendment, wishing to address responsible gaming in a separate, dedicated session. He did, however, concede that having a responsible gaming segment may help the bill’s chances in the Senate.
The above measure would take 2.5 percent of tax revenue generated through Kentucky sports betting to fund problem gambling support and treatment efforts. The estimate for a year’s tax from those who have costed the proposition is $22.9 million per year, with retail being taxed at 14.5 percent and online betting at 9.75 percent.
The bill proposes in-person sports betting at the nine Kentucky racing venues, and also allows each track up to three online skins – giving a potential for 27 operators in total in the online space. Anyone who wishes to bet online will have to register in-person, and the age for legal betting will be 18 which is in-line with the Kentucky lottery and horse racing age limits currently.
Rep. Adam Koenig’s 2022 HB 606 was previously the furthest a bill had made it, and although it died without a vote, the optimism is there for this year to be different.
However, there are only a few legislative days left before a 10-day veto break and the final two possible days of the session to get this bill through and avoiding a similar fate to the last one.
Were there any other amendments to the Kentucky bill?
Rep. Josh Calloway made a last ditch attempt to amend the legislation, too. He first argued that sports betting age should be 21 instead of 18, to which Mereditch responded that it would be ‘inconsistent to treat sports betting differently from every other gambling related product in the state’. The amendment failed a voice vote.
The other was surrounding credit card deposits, which, citing cybersecurity risks with ACH deposits, Meredith also disagreed with. The amendment went to a roll call vote where it was defeated.
Kentucky is one of the slower states to legalize sports betting, despite strong public support support. A 2022 poll showed over 60 percent support for sports betting, and with world famous betting events such as the Kentucky Derby taking place within the state, sports betting doesn’t seem as drastic an expansion as it may in other states.
With the recent launch of Ohio mobile sports betting, the pressure from bordering states could now just be too high for lawmakers to ignore in Kentucky.
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