The sponsor of Kentucky sports betting legislation believes the votes are in place to cross the finish line this year.
Rep. Michael Meredith told LSR this week that he worked through the 10-day veto recess to help sway wary senators to vote for his KY sports betting bill. The Senate could take up Meredith’s HB 551 during the final two days of the session, which begin Wednesday.
“I feel pretty good as we move into the last couple of days,” Meredith said. “I’ve continued to have conversations with members of the Senate throughout the veto recess and I think the votes are there. It’s obviously going to be close with the 23-vote threshold this year, and anything can happen at the last minute, but I feel like we have the votes.”
Meredith’s bill advanced through the House earlier this month. The Senate will require a two-thirds majority, or 23 votes, to pass. Gov. Andy Beshear is a sports betting supporter and has signaled he would sign a bill.
Narrative shift for Kentucky sports betting
Until Meredith’s comments this week, the main House sponsor was “cautiously optimistic.” Following a Senate committee vote, Meredith said at least two Senate votes needed courting.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer has shared Meredith’s hesitant positivity throughout the session.
Thayer is confident the 20 votes needed in an even year are in place. If sports betting fails to pass this year, Thayer has said next year should be a good possibikity.
Does a year make a difference?
Last year, a House sports betting bill did not receive a vote in the Senate. Going into this year, proponents were hesitant because of the higher vote threshold and shorter session.
This year’s bill does not include daily fantasy sports and online poker. Those two pieces were removed in hopes of helping gain some Senate support.
That change, along with an extra year of work by proponents, helped increase the odds heading into the last two possible days of the legislative session.
Kentucky sports betting framework
Meredith’s bill would allow in-person sports betting at Kentucky’s nine horse racing tracks. Those tracks could also partner with up to three online sportsbooks each, creating up to 27 online skins in the state.
The bill would create a tax of 9.75% on in-person sports betting revenue and 14.25% on online revenue.
“The bill before the Senate is a strong product. We’ve worked on the language for close to three months, listened to folks in the industry, problem gaming advocates and my colleagues on the other end of the capital,” Meredith told LSR earlier this month heading into the veto break.
“Now we just have to make sure the members of the Senate know the details and reasons why bringing this marketplace out of the shadows and into the light through prudent regulation are good for the citizens of Kentucky, especially those that are consumers in the marketplace.”