Kentucky gives a new go at legalizing sports betting for the fifth consecutive year

Proponents believe this could be the year Kentucky finally legalizes sports betting, as Republican Rep. Michael Meredith has recently filed new legislation, HB 551, to that end. The bill would permit betting on live professional and amateur sporting events, giving Kentuckians access to similar online betting accounts for people in Indiana and Ohio. 

“Statistics show that more than half of our state’s population supports legalizing sports wagering. The time has come to ask ourselves if it truly is in the best interest of the people of Kentucky to prevent adults from legally placing a bet,” Meredith said in a news release. 

In this bill, online poker and fantasy sports are not included, which some lawmakers believe gives it a better chance of passing through the legislature. It also requires that online gaming providers associate with a Kentucky horse racing track, reports WLKY.

It also provides the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission with regulatory responsibility over gaming companies. If legalized, people would be able to bet through a licensed facility or online through a website or mobile app. 

Meredith opted to keep the tax rates consistent with previous bills. Retail sports wagering would be allowed at the nine racetracks in the state, with their adjusted gross revenue taxed at 9.75%.

The racetracks could have a maximum of three online skins, creating the potential for as many as 27 online operators, with online revenue taxed at a 14.25% rate. In the first 12 months of legal wagering, the bill requires in-person registration in order to have access to mobile wagering. Remote registration would be available afterward.

Kentucky bettors would be allowed to wager on in-state college teams, an important provision considering the following that the University of Kentucky basketball program enjoys statewide.

Sports betting would be allowed through state tracks

Additional sports and events available for wagering would include international sporting events, including but not limited to the Olympics and World Cup; electronic sports, e-sports, and other competitive video game events; and amateur sporting events.

Last year a bill to legalize sports wagering in Kentucky passed the House in the General Assembly, but never received so much as a committee hearing in the Senate. The renewed effort marks the fifth consecutive year a sports wagering bill has been filed in the statehouse.

Meredith’s bill has bipartisan support with six Democrats and five Republicans signed on as co-sponsors. HB 106, which was filed in January and includes language to legalize online poker and daily fantasy sports, is sponsored exclusively by Democrats.