Could this be the Year for Kentucky Sports Betting?

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For three years in a row in Kentucky, a sports betting bill has come out of committee. However, none of the bills have been able to progress any further.

A few days ago, in a historic vote, a bill to legalize sports betting in Kentucky passed the State’s House. The vote won in a landslide as it was approved 58-30, with 12 representatives choosing to abstain. The bill will now be moving to the Kentucky state Senate for a vote there. 

Kentucky state Representative Adam Koenig has been an outspoken supporter of legalizing sports betting in the state and sponsored the bill. He indicated that he is hopeful this will be the year Kentucky sports betting will have the support in the state’s legislation.

In the bill, not only would sports betting be legalized, so would real money betting on online poker and fantasy sports. Kentucky sports betting would potentially generate $22.5 million in taxes each year, according to recent estimations. The state would put some of this money toward its pension system.

The legalization of sports betting in Kentucky has faced some firm opposition. This includes vocal opponents the Kentucky Ethics League and The Family Foundation. 

However, Representative Adam Koenig pointed to the fact that those who are interested in sports betting already have other avenues they can utilize while the state misses out on the revenue. This includes using gray market sportsbooks or traveling to neighboring states with legal sports betting.

The bill’s journey to legalization will not necessarily be smooth sailing from here. The Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader, Damon Thayer, has been supportive of legalizing sports betting in the state. However the Kentucky Senate President, Robert Stivers, has not thrown strong support behind the measure as of now.

The General Assembly in Kentucky is set to finish next month, so the bill will need to be passed before then. However, in 2020, Representative Koenig brought another Kentucky sports betting bill to the same committee. That bill was able to pass but actually stalled out prior to the end of the session. 

We are entering the last few days of the 60-day legislative session currently, so the heat is on.

Kentucky is a major state for sports betting due to housing the Kentucky Derby. It is estimated that $2 billion is wagered illegally in the state annually, all money that the state is missing out on taxing.

Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.