The future of sports betting in the state of Kentucky took a big step forward on Friday when the House of Representatives passed a bill that would legalize the industry in the state.
With a vote of 58-30, the Kentucky House passed HB 606 which would legalize both in-person and online sports betting. The bill now will go the Senate for a final vote before heading to the governor’s office for signature.
House Bill 606
House Bill 606 from Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, seeks to legalize, regulate, and tax sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and online poker in the state of Kentucky. The bipartisan bill would collect a tax of 9.75% of the adjusted gross revenue from in-person sports betting and 14.25% of the adjusted gross revenue from online sports wagering.
According to Rep. Koenig, sports betting is legal in Kentucky’s neighboring states and with the American Gambling Association estimating that $2 billion is illegally wagered in Kentucky every year, the state is missing out on a big opportunity.
Koenig said that the legalization of the sports betting industry could bring in an expected $22.5 million in annual revenue to the state. A big chunk of the state’s collection would go to the state’s pension fund while a small portion of it will be allotted towards problem gambling.
Last Chance Until 2024?
Lawmakers opposed to HB 606 argued that they’d rather let the people of Kentucky decide, by voting on a constitutional amendment that puts sports betting on the ballot, rather than a legislative process, just like what states like Colorado and Louisiana did. However, such pivot could would delay any hopes to have legal sports betting in Kentucky at least in the next year.
Experts are looking at HB 606 as the last chance to legalize sports betting in Kentucky until at least 2024. That’s because the Kentucky legislative only has nine days left in the state’s Regular Session and because the legislative has half the number of legislative sessions on odd years than in even years, meaning there will only be 30 sessions in 2023 as compared to 60 this year.
But there’s a chance that Koenig’s bill moves fast in the Senate as a similar sports betting bill is already pending there. Also, Gov. Andy Beshear is expected to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk based on his support of previous efforts to legalize the industry.