Kentucky Considers Legalizing Sports Betting
HB 551 would allow betting on live sporting events, including in-state college teams, through licensed facilities or mobile apps.
Kentucky, like many states in the US, is considering legalizing sports betting. The latest effort comes in the form of HB 551, filed by Republican Rep. Michael Meredith. The bill would allow betting on live professional and amateur sporting events, both in person and online through licensed facilities or mobile apps.
One of the key provisions of the bill is that it does not include online poker or fantasy sports, which some lawmakers believe will increase its chances of passing through the legislature. Instead, the bill focuses solely on sports betting, with online gaming providers required to associate with a Kentucky horse racing track.
The bill also gives regulatory responsibility over gaming companies to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and requires that sports betting revenue be taxed at rates consistent with previous bills. Retail sports wagering would be allowed at the nine racetracks in the state, with their adjusted gross revenue taxed at 9.75%, while online revenue would be taxed at a higher rate of 14.25%.
Kentucky bettors would be allowed to wager on in-state college teams, which is an important provision given the popularity of the University of Kentucky basketball program. The bill also allows for additional sports and events to be wagered on, including international sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup, as well as e-sports and other competitive video game events.
The bill has bipartisan support, with six Democrats and five Republicans signed on as co-sponsors. Last year, a similar bill passed the House but never received a committee hearing in the Senate. However, proponents of the bill believe that this could be the year that sports betting finally becomes legal in Kentucky.
“Statistics show that more than half of our state’s population supports legalizing sports wagering. The time has come to ask ourselves if it truly is in the best interest of the people of Kentucky to prevent adults from legally placing a bet,” said Meredith in a news release.
If the bill is passed, it could bring significant revenue to the state through sports betting taxes and licensing fees. It would also provide Kentuckians with access to similar online betting accounts as people in neighboring states like Indiana and Ohio.