Kentucky House Votes to Legalize Sports Betting for the First Time

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Fortune favored Rep. Adam Koenig this time as the House passed a sports betting bill on Friday for the first time, legalizing sports betting in Kentucky. The bill now heads to the Senate with few legislative days remaining in this session.

On Friday morning, the House approved HB 606, with a 58-30 vote. The measure would legalize statewide retail and online sports betting.

It is Koenig’s fourth attempt to legalize sports betting in Kentucky in as many years.

Sports betting is already legal in all states bordering Kentucky.

Kentucky Senate Has Just Nine Days!

Though online gambling in Kentucky has been a divisive issue, the time factor is a bigger challenge here. Friday was the 51 st day of a 60-day session. Kentucky follows a 60-day session in even-number years and a 30-day session in odd-number years.

This year’s legislative session is set to prorogue on April 14. The legislature takes a veto break beginning March 31 before returning for two final days on April 13.

So seven days in March and two in April will decide whether Kentucky sports betting is coming this year or 2024. Because like 2021, 2023 would be a hard target as odd-number years need a three-fifths majority vote during a 30-day session.

According to Koenig, his proposal would be assigned to the Senate Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee. If that committee gives the nod, HB 606 would then move to the Senate floor.

Koenig’s “Try, Try Again” Pays Off

The passage of the Kentucky sports betting bill reflects Koenig’s determination, who attempted three times in as many years to get through his legislation. He has finally been able to get it approved at least from one chamber in Bluegrass State.

The lawmaker told the media he felt very confident, and they wouldn’t have gone to the floor if they didn’t have the votes.

While regretting the bill should have passed at an earlier phase of the current session, Koenig said it’s better to provide the protections of the government than allow people to bet on in an illegal environment.

Since Kentucky first opened legal discussions for sports betting, all but one of its seven border states have regulated the industry. Ohio is the latest state with legal sports betting. Only Missouri has not regulated sports betting, but lawmaking aimed at legalizing the market is underway.

In Kentucky, sports betting has had bipartisan support for a long time. Democratic Gov. Andy has indicated his support on several occasions.

Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Details

HB 606 would require online platforms to be tethered to existing horse racetracks, while retail betting would be available at the tracks, in addition to one location per track.

There are four operating horse racing tracks in Kentucky.

The residents would be able to place bets on professional, college, and amateur sports. Betting on in-state teams is also permitted. Operators are required to pay a $500,000 initial application and licensing fee, which they can renew by paying $50,000 each year.

HB 606 also legalizes online poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS). The retail bets would be taxed at 9.75% and digital bets at 14.25%.

According to American Gaming Association, Kentucky bettors already place $2 billion worth of bets on sports each year.

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