Industry News

Mar 12, 2022

New Kentucky Bill Would Make Sports Betting Legal

US Sportsbooks · Bonus Codes · Betting News · Special Update

Kentucky is home to Thoroughbred horse racing as its top gaming industry. If a recent bill gains enough traction with state lawmakers, legal sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling might be added to the list.

House Bill 610 was recently filed by State Representative Adam Koenig. He is a Republican representing Erlanger, Kentucky. The goal of this proposed legislation is to bring legal sports betting to the state through existing horse racing tracks.

This would be the perfect marriage between one of Kentucky’s biggest industries and one of the fastest growing industries in the nation. Also included in the language of HB 610 is the addition of DFS and online poker to the gaming mix.

In-state horse tracks would be licensed by the state to offer sports betting on both professional and college sports. Available betting markets would also include other sporting events such as the Olympics.

In an interesting twist, sports betting would be legal at individual race tracks through retail sportsbooks. Each track could also offer up to two offtrack gaming facilities within a 60 mile radius.

In 2021, Ellis Park announced plans to build an offtrack facility at Towne Square Mall. Along with simulcast horse races, this gaming venue would offer historic horse racing machines which are similar to slots.

The company then leased 62,000 square feet of space that used to house a JC Penney retail store.

In light of the recently proposed legislation, Ellis Entertainment LLC general manager Jeffery Inman confirmed his company’s interest in also offering legal sports betting.

The initial fee for a sports betting license would be set at $500,000. There would also be an annual renewal fee of $50,000. The addition of online poker would carry its own separate licensing fees. The initial cost would be $250,000 plus another $10,000 annually.

This is not Koenig’s first attempt to legalize sports betting in Kentucky. He mentioned that he filed a similar bill in 2019. At that time, he estimated that the state could take in as much as $22 million in annual revenue.

The new bill would create a Wagering Administrative Fund to cover the cost of issuing licenses. Any remaining funds would be put towards the Kentucky permanent pension fund. There would also be a state Problem Gambling Assistance Board along with a separate fund.

One of the issues Kentucky is facing is heightened gaming activity in neighboring states. The current competition includes both land-based casinos with retail sportsbooks and mobile sportsbook apps.

Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.

The featured image for this post was sourced on Wikimedia Commons.

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