Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Enters Crunch Time

Written By Pat Evans on March 17, 2022
Kentucky sports betting

A Kentucky sports betting bill is back in familiar territory.

Rep. Adam Koenig’s HB 606 passed the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee on Wednesday, but the bill faces an uphill battle with the General Assembly’s session ending next month.

Koenig brought a similar KY sports betting bill to the same committee in 2020. It passed but ultimately stalled out before the end of the session.

“It’s in the position to hopefully have better luck out of this committee,” Koenig said Wednesday.

Kentucky sports betting pushes forward

HB 606 is Koenig’s fourth sports betting bill in as many years. He announced the legislation Feb. 28 as part of a broader package of gaming bills.

“We’ve been close in the past, I imagine it will be close again this year,” Koenig said last month. “Certainly the votes are there on the House floor. It’s a matter of getting my fellow Republicans to see the freedom aspect of it.”

The bill would legalize retail and mobile sports betting through the state’s horse racing tracks. While similar to the past efforts, Koenig removed an in-person registration requirement for online sports betting.

Time already running out

The Kentucky legislature follows a 60-day session in even-numbered years. Wednesday was the 49th day of the session.

The legislature breaks for a veto period following the 58th day. It returns for the final two legislative days on April 13.

The tight timeline could pose a challenge for Koenig’s bill this year, but could set the issue up nicely for 2024.

2024 a magic year for Kentucky sports betting?

Next year, sports betting would run into a similar issue as the 2021 effort that did not gain traction. Any legislation will be limited by the 30-day session the legislature follows in odd-numbered years. Odd-year sessions also require a three-fifths majority for passage.

Still, it appears support is growing for sports betting in Kentucky, as 33 states across the US already legalized. Kentucky is surrounded by states with legal sports betting, except for its 40-mile border with Missouri. The Show-Me State has promising legislation this session.

Last year, Gov. Andy Beshear said he supports sports betting and this year a Senate bill was also filed, but has yet to move. A poll earlier this year by advocacy group Kentucky Sports Betting Now found 65% of Kentucky residents support sports betting.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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