In what he called a “strategic” maneuver Wednesday, Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer moved HB 606 — the bill that would legalize sports betting, online poker, and daily fantasy sports in the commonwealth — to a “more favorable committee,” which could set up a make-or-break final day of the legislative session Thursday.
At the beginning of the Senate floor session Wednesday, Thayer, a Republican, moved HB 606 from the Senate Committee on Licensing & Occupations to the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor. HB 606, which passed through the House on a 58-30 vote March 18, has long been considered a tenuous proposition in the Senate, and Thayer still calls it “a longshot.” But on Wednesday he said, “I’m doing everything I can to keep it alive and give it a chance.”
Any movement through the Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor Committee would happen Thursday, Thayer said.
Bill won’t move unless floor votes are there
Thayer emphasized, however, that the bill would not move through to a floor vote unless the votes to pass are there. Ten of the 38 state senators are widely acknowledged to be against any expanded gaming, while the eight Senate Democrats should be supportive of the bill, since efforts to legalize sports betting have been endorsed by Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear. That leaves 20 Republicans to swing the vote, and the forecast for those votes is still unclear.
McGarvey: We won't even give sports gaming a vote but we'll vote to ban kids from playing sports
— Joe Sonka 😐 (@joesonka) April 13, 2022
As for the bill’s sponsor in the House, Republican Rep. Adam Koenig, who has been working to sway senators during the 10-day veto period that preceded the final two days of the legislative session, he said Wednesday, “I trust Sen. Thayer and [Senate Majority Chair Julie Raque] Adams on this.”
Koenig has worked to get a sports betting bill passed for the last few years, and this is the furthest it has progressed to clear the General Assembly. And the timing could be crucial, because although Beshear has announced his intent to run for a second term in November of 2023, it’s possible he won’t win reelection in the Republican-dominated state.