It took less than 24 hours for Kentucky sports betting to become law following legislative approval.
Gov. Andy Beshear signed KY sports betting legislation Friday morning, effective June 28, with the bill requiring the market to be live within six months. The signature comes following the Kentucky Senate passing HB 551 Thursday evening.
“For years I believed it was time for Kentucky to join so many other states and pass sports betting,” Beshear said during a press conference. “We talk about having a competitive business climate, but we did not have an important business that nearly every state surrounding us has. Our dollars were supporting Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio and other states.
“After years of urging action, sports betting will be legal in Kentucky. We made it happen. This industry will bring new jobs, tourism and growth.”
HB 551 was one of two bipartisan bills Beshear signed into law during a “historic legislation” press conference. The other bill legalized medical marijuana.
How Kentucky sports betting became law
Heading into the session, there were doubts sports betting could pass with an odd-year 30-day session that required a two-thirds majority. Still, proponents like Rep. Michael Meredith were “cautiously optimistic.”
Meredith’s HB 551 cruised through the House. The Senate was more of an uphill battle, and, for some time, it appeared getting to the 23-vote threshold needed could be a struggle.
Proponents worked through a 10-day veto break, without fear of a Beshear veto, and secured the votes needed heading into the final two days of the session. On Thursday, the Senate passed the sports betting legislation with two votes to spare, 25-12.
During Friday’s press conference, Beshear thanked Meredith, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer and former Rep. Adam Koenig, a past champion of sports betting in Kentucky. Koenig authored similar bills in years past, including one that also reached the Senate last year.
What will KY sports betting look like?
The nine Kentucky horse racing tracks can open in-person sportsbooks. Those nine tracks can also partner with up to three online sportsbook operators, meaning there could be up to 27 online sportsbooks in the state.
The state will tax in-person sports betting revenue at 9.75%. Online sports betting revenue carries a tax of 14.25%.
Before Thursday‘s vote, Thayer said sports betting could bring in an estimated $23 million in annual tax revenue.
“We are a sports-crazy state,” Thayer said. “And people want to be able to make a choice of their own free will to make a wager on a sports event — like almost all our surrounding states.”