Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Clears First Legislative Hurdle

Sports betting in Kentucky is getting another push as March Madness is upon us.

Kentucky House Bill 606

House Bill 606 cleared the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee on Wednesday but still will have to clear more obstacles in the closing days of the legislative session.

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The bill would allow Kentucky to launch an online sports betting marketplace, permitting users to place bets on their mobile devices. Bettors could also go to horse tracks and put down wagers.

Rep. Adam Koenig is the leading supporter of the bill and is optimistic Kentucky legislators will finally legalize sports betting. Koenig estimates millions are illegally bet on sports each year in Kentucky through offshore websites or bookies. According to supporters of previous sports betting bills, a regulated sports betting market in Kentucky could produce $22 million in yearly revenue.

In addition to sports betting, HB 606 would also look to legalize and regulate taxes on all online gambling, including online poker and fantasy sports.

Koenig has been one of the most outspoken advocates for sports betting in Kentucky. He led legislative efforts in 2020 and 2021 and remained determined despite coming short both years.

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“I’m not going to leave here until I get it done,” he told WAVE news on Tuesday. “Three years ago, the study said $22.5 million (tax revenue from sports betting). I think that is conservative, frankly, especially with other states outpacing their projections.”

Kentucky has been close

Two years ago, Koenig’s bill also passed the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee. It also passed in the second week of a 60-day session before going to the House floor. On the House, 41 of Koenig’s 99 colleagues in the chamber co-sponsored the bill. However, opponents filed numerous amendments before it returned to the committee, making the bill stall out.

Koenig does have the support of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. During his State of the Commonwealth, Beshear mentioned sports betting as an activity he would like to see come to his state.

“Speaking of laws that unduly restrict us from growth and innovation, it is time to legalize medical marijuana, pass sports betting and save historic horse racing,” he said.

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