Kentucky legislators have introduced sports betting bills in recent years, only to fall short of legalization in the state. On Wednesday, Sen. David Yates introduced a sports betting bill, SB 213, giving the Bluegrass State another opportunity to consider legalizing sports gambling.
Adam Koenig, a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, is often the legislator behind sports betting bills. It seems that in Yates, Koenig has a counterpart who feels similarly about sports betting in the Kentucky Senate.
The two aren’t the only sports betting supporters in Kentucky, but the advocates for it often face significant opposition to the legalization of sports gambling.
Inside the bill
Yates’ bill includes language related to retail and mobile sports betting in addition to online poker. The bill would allow sports betting to be offered at licensed horse tracks in the state and professional sports venues. Mobile betting would be available, although the bill would require in-person registration for mobile wagering through 2023.
Kentucky lawmaker files bill to legalize sports betting, online poker and daily fantasy sports. SB 213 would tax retail sports betting at 9.75% and online wagering at 14.25%. 1 skin per track/sports venue. Tethered; in-person registration req'd for mobile. https://t.co/AVeXGV8BHq
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) February 24, 2022
Licensed tracks or sports venues would be allowed to partner with just one interactive sports wagering service provider at a time. The bill would allow bettors to wager on major professional sporting events as well as college sports, which would likely be of interest to Kentuckians.
The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are among college athletic programs with die-hard fans. The two men’s basketball teams would likely receive significant interest from local bettors.
Yates suggests the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission should serve as the regulator of sports betting in Kentucky.
A challenging path to becoming law
Even with supporters in the House and Senate — and with Gov. Andy Beshear also supporting sports betting in the past — Yates’ bill may have the same difficulty becoming law as prior efforts. It’s an election year for members of the Kentucky House and Senate, and Koenig has said previously that some politicians won’t budge on their anti-gambling stance in part because they don’t want to upset any of their constituents.
Other anti-gambling voices include the Kentucky Family Foundation, which raises concerns about the potential social fallout of widespread legal wagering. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer told Sports Handle in December that he believes Kentucky will “be one of the last states” to legalize sports betting.
The neighboring states of Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, and Virginia have legal sports betting options and Ohio is in the process of creating regulations. Kentucky residents can cross state lines to place legal wagers and also can access illegal bookies or unregulated offshore mobile betting platforms to bet.