Kentucky’s sports betting law is going through the Senate committee

A bill legalizing sports betting in Kentucky took another step forward on Wednesday when the Senate Committee on Licensing and Professions passed HB 551 by a 9-1 vote. The bill passed the House of Representatives Monday night by a vote of 63 to 34.

Kentucky borders six states — Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, VirginiaAnd West Virginia — all this allowed legally mobile sports betting.

“We know that a significant portion of the marketplace is just crossing the state line, across the river, to place their bets,” Rep. Michael Meredith, the sponsor of the bill, testified Wednesday.

Under HB 551, adjusted gross receipts would be taxed at 14.25% for online bets and 9.25% for in-person bets. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would act as the state regulator of sports betting.

The bill would allow the state’s nine licensed racetracks to offer retail and online sports betting. A license would cost $500,000 with an annual renewal fee of $50,000. Each route could partner with up to three online sportsbooks, which could result in up to 27 mobile sportsbooks in Kentucky.

bill debate

Several people spoke out against the idea of ​​expanding gaming in Kentucky Wednesday morning. Many of their arguments cited moral objections to sports betting and the possible emergence of problematic gaming issues.

“Predatory gambling, particularly in the expansive form contemplated in HB 551, is not a sacrificeless form of entertainment or competition,” said David Walls, Executive Director of The Family Foundation. “It is a form of financial fraud where the government partner with gambling interests harms its own citizens.”

Meredith responded to those concerns towards the end of Wednesday’s hearing.

“I’m not standing here to debate anyone’s morals or religious beliefs, and I’ve said that time and time again about this bill,” Meredith said. “But again, we know this is already happening in the marketplace, either illegally or outside the borders of our Commonwealth. And so I think it’s wise that we regulate this as a state and create a structure where people know what’s happening in the market and know that it’s under the influence of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which has been proven to bet monitored, safe.

Next Steps

The bill’s next step is a Senate vote, although a date for that has yet to be set. It is likely that the vote will take place during one of the last two days of the state’s legislative session, which ends on March 30. The Legislature is taking a 10-day veto period beginning March 17, giving Governor Andy Beshear time to consider veto actions related to bills sent to his desk.

The Legislature returns on March 29, creating two busy days for the group to attempt to pass additional bills. For the bill to reach Governor Beshear’s desk, three-fifths (23 of the 38 senators) must vote in the Senate. That’s a significant hurdle.

“We’re going to try and we’re going to make our arguments, but you know, there are people who have moral beliefs against gambling and I’m going to respect that,” said Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said WDRB News. “But hopefully in the next 10 days or so people will reach out to their senators and talk to them about their support for the bill.”

When the bill reaches Beshear’s desk, he’ll likely sign it, since the governor has openly advocated legalizing sports betting in Kentucky. Kentucky’s sports betting law is going through the Senate committee

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