Kentucky Sports Betting Begins Daunting Legislative Road In 2023

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Kentucky sports betting

Some momentum is taking shape to legalize Kentucky sports betting this year, though it faces a staggering number of hurdles in 2023.

The KY sports betting bill, H.B. 106, introduced by Rep. Derrick Graham on Thursday, will not be able to move through any committees until the second week of February.

By then, lawmakers will have just 26 days to achieve something they have struggled to do for the last half-decade.

Legislative longshot

Sports betting passed the Kentucky House for the first time last year, but did not move in the Republican-controlled Senate, where a leadership divided on gambling killed the bill.

Gov. Andy Beshear, a staunch proponent of sports betting, set the blame with “a few” Senate holdouts, during a public appearance at a racetrack in September. He is up for re-election in May.

But even duplicating last year’s 58-30 House passage would not be enough in 2023 because bills need two-thirds support from each chamber in odd-numbered years, when lawmakers meet for just 30 days as opposed to 60.

To make matters more difficult, Kentucky sports betting will be without one of its biggest historical supporters. Rep. Adam Koenig, the architect of the Bluegrass Sate’s last four sports betting bills, lost his House seat in September.

Fresh Kentucky sports betting bill

As with Koenig’s proposals, the latest Kentucky sports betting bill would legalize online poker as well.

H.B. 106 would cede sports betting to the state’s racetracks, allowing them up to two retail sportsbooks and one online betting platform each.

Revenue form a 9.75% tax on retail betting and 14.25% tax on online betting would go toward Kentucky’s Permanent Pension Fund. It is unclear how much that would be, but last year’s bill could have generated $22.5 million annually for the state, according to Koenig.

Other notable components of H.B. 106:

Surrounded by sports betting

Earlier this week, geolocation login data from the Ohio sports betting launch indicated a large number of Kentuckians likely cross the border to legally bet. That is not surprising given that last year a Public Opinion Strategies poll found more than 65% of Kentucky residents were in favor of legalizing sports betting.

Sports betting is legal and live online in six of the seven states that border Kentucky. More than a third of Kentucky counties border those legal neighbor states. With Missouri revisiting legalization this week, the Bluegrass State could soon be completely surrounded.

Kentucky’s gambling laws allow only for charitable gaming, such as on bingo and raffles, participation in the state lottery, and parimutuel betting on horse races.