Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Will Try Senate Again After House Approval

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Kentucky sports betting

A Kentucky sports betting bill is heading to the Senate for the second straight year. 

The Kentucky House advanced a KY sports betting bill Monday evening, 63-34. Rep. Michael Meredith expected HB 551 to pass the chamber but acknowledges the Senate will be the toughest battle.

Last year, a KY House sports betting bill failed to receive a vote in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer is ready to accept the sports betting bill and work to gain the necessary votes to pass the chamber.

Time is running short, however, as there are three legislative days before a 10-day veto break and the final two possible days of the session. However, because Gov. Andy Beshear supports sports betting, Meredith said legislators have a longer runway to work on the bill through the veto break.

Kentucky sports betting bill basics

To make matters more difficult this year, the Kentucky legislature requires a two-thirds majority in odd-year legislative sessions.

HB 551 creates sports betting licenses for the nine horse racing tracks in Kentucky. The tracks can open in-person sportsbooks and partner with up to three online sports betting operators.

The bill taxes in-person sports betting revenue at 9.75% and online revenue at 14.25%

A Meredith amendment that removes a 12-month in-person registration requirement for online betting passed. States with in-person registration requirements have limited market growth, as mobile wagering often makes up greater than 90% of overall handle.

Amendments for Kentucky sports betting

Along with the in-person registration amendment, Meredith made several technical adjustments. 

Several responsible gambling measures were added, including sending 2.5% of tax revenue to support problem gambling programs. 

Amendments to prohibit credit card usage with sportsbooks and to raise the minimum sports betting age from 18 to 21 both failed. 

Kentucky Senate poses steep hill

Thayer worked with Meredith to develop a bill that would be more palatable to the Senate.

Unlike last year’s legislation, this year’s effort does not include daily fantasy sports and online poker.

In 2022, Thayer’s Republican caucus could not agree to bring the sports betting bill for a vote. Thayer said similar resistance will be alive this year. 

If not now, when in Kentucky?

Thayer told LSR he already has the 20 votes the Senate would need in an even year. While Thayer said he would not give up hope in 2023, he said next year is a safer bet.

“The big hurdle for me in the Senate is it requires 23 votes. Those extra three votes are certainly a higher threshold for us to cross,” Thayer told LSR last month. “I will say it’s an easier proposition next year with just 20 votes. But I’ll push hard.”

Still, support for Kentucky sports betting has gained steam and Meredith is optimistic it can find its way to the governor’s desk.