Sports wagering bill passed by Kentucky lawmakers

March 31, 2023 | 12:12 am

Updated March 31, 2023 | 10:33 am

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Kentucky lawmakers passed legislation that will create a legal marketplace for sports wagering and establish a fund for regulation of the industry.

The measure cleared the Senate floor on a 25-12 vote and now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto. It passed out of the House earlier this month on a 63-34 vote.

Local State Representatives DJ Johnson and Suzanne Miles voted in favor of the bill, while State Senator Gary Boswell voted in opposition.

House Bill 551, sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) and introduced on the Senate floor by Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), would also establish a fund for problem gambling, and much of the tax revenue would benefit Kentucky’s pension fund.

The legislation would also make the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission the exclusive regulator of sports wagering with exclusive jurisdiction over wagering and licensing.

“We are a sports-crazy state – we love our sports in the Commonwealth,” Thayer said. “And people want to be able to make the choice of their own free will to make a wager on a sports event like almost all of our surrounding states.”

He said six states that border Kentucky have already legalized sports betting, and Missouri is in the process of doing so. Forty-six counties in Kentucky have a border state, and several thousand people regularly drive to Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee to make legal sports wagers, he added.

Thayer pointed to a fiscal analysis of the bill indicating that sports wagering would raise $23 million annually for the state general fund. However, Thayer said he thinks that number is low.

“We know that quantitatively, and we know qualitatively because we hear the stories about people driving across the river in Cincinnati and Louisville to make online wagers or brick-and-mortar sportsbook wagers in our surrounding states,” he said. “Our nine racetracks would be the brick-and-mortar locations.”

Information came from a release by the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

March 31, 2023 | 12:12 am

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