Kentucky Sports Betting Legalization Hopes Dashed Right Before Kentucky Derby

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With the Kentucky Derby and the major horse race betting season coming up, there is one big question looming. Many people have been wondering if Kentucky sports betting would be on the way soon, to coincide with Derby betting season. Unfortunately, it looks like hopeful sports bettors in Kentucky will have longer to wait.

The push to legalize Kentucky sports betting during the recent legislative session had gotten hopes up that legal sports wagering would be coming to the state momentarily. The last day of the 2022 legislative session for Kentucky just took place a few days ago. And, the Kentucky state House’s sports betting bill, HB 606, did not progress to the Kentucky state Senate before the end of that final day.

HB 606 was the first Kentucky online sports betting bill to make it through either chamber of the state government. The piece of legislation actually had some wind at its back considering that it was not killed until the end of the legislative session this year. But, unfortunately, the bill did not have the support it needed to override the obstacles that it was facing.

HB 606 was the fourth Kentucky sports betting bill from Kentucky state representative Adam Koenig. The bill actually managed to pass in the Kentucky state House with a good amount of support, by a vote of 58 to 30. However, the bill encountered a huge obstacle when it came time to progress into the Kentucky state Senate.

Despite the fact that the Senate Majority Leader, Damon Thayer, is a supporter of legalizing sports betting in the state, he could not muster up the support the bill needed. The Republican caucus did not give the measure the support it would need to be able to pass. This is because of the thirty eight state Senators in the state of Kentucky, an overwhelming majority of thirty state Senators are Republican.

The bill had enough stamina to stay alive until the end of this year’s legislative session. However, the bill was not brought to a final vote, which it would need to progress. Senate Majority Leader Thayer indicated his disappointment and frustration that Kentucky sports betting was still not a reality.

The governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, is a Democrat. He has been outspoken about his support for the legalization of sports betting in the state of Kentucky. Had a piece of legislation passed both chambers and made its way to his desk, he was very likely to sign the bill into law.

In addition to the support for Kentucky sports betting from some major officials, according to a Public Opinion Strategies poll from this year, an overwhelming 65% of residents in the state support legalizing sports betting in Kentucky.

Even though Kentucky sports betting legislature was not able to pass this year, all hope is not lost. Because the measure made it further than a sports betting bill has in previous years, this is a good sign. However, in 2023, any measure would require a majority of three-fifths to pass during a short legislative session in an odd numbered year. So, lawmakers may be eying 2024 for the year sports betting legislation passed in the state.

However, a governor race will be coming up and could see a new governor in office after 2023 and who knows if that official will support sports betting legalization. Also, other lawmakers could be replaced in the meantime as well. So, it is impossible to predict just what will happen with the issue.

Though, if Kentucky wants to keep up with its neighboring states, it is likely the state will be looking to legalize sports betting. Missouri has been one of the last holdouts when it comes to sports betting legalization and the state has been working on its own bill this year. If Missouri sports betting passes, that will leave Kentucky as the last holdout, which is not an enviable position. The state could lose out on tax revenue from sports betting to a number of neighboring states as a result.

Even though Kentucky sports betting was not able to pass this session, that is not bad news for Kentucky Derby betting. Horse race betting is already legal in the state of Kentucky. So, those looking to place your bets on the Derby and other Triple Crown races will be able to do so. See the latest Kentucky Derby Odds.

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