Sports betting bill passes Ky. House, advances to Senate

Legislation to legalize sports betting in Kentucky passed in the House and now moves to the Senate.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 9:41 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Legislation to legalize sports betting in Kentucky passed in the House and now moves to the Senate.

Supporters say this could generate millions of dollars in the Commonwealth. It’s estimated sports betting would bring in around $23 million a year, with most of that going to fund the public pension system.

Opponents call it predatory and say it harms Kentucky families.

It’s legislation that supporters have been trying to get passed in Kentucky for years.

“There have been efforts dealing with this for the last four years in this body,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland.

Sports wagering again passed in the House of Representatives with a 63 to 34 vote.

Six of Kentucky’s seven bordering states have already legalized legislation. Missouri has not.

Meredith says that people in 46 Kentucky border counties can easily hop over state lines and place a bet.

“In fact, sometimes you don’t even have to cross the river. I’ve heard from folks in Jefferson County who know the exact parking lot on River Road, where you can go, bounce off an Indiana cell phone tower, and you can place your wager without crossing the river without paying the toll,” said Meredith.

Meredith said on the House floor that the American Gaming Association estimates more than $1.1 billion annually are wagered illegally in Kentucky.

Opponents of the bill say it targets families and shifts priorities.

“This bill didn’t bring any jobs to Kentucky,” said Rep. Chris Fugate, R-Chavies. “We’re gonna get $22 million in revenue for the state, 2.5% goes to the gambling fund, and we’re gonna lose our people of Kentucky are going to lose probably $300 million.”

Rep. Josh Calloway attempted to add two amendments that would ban credit cards from being used and raise the age limit to 21. Both failed.

“I voted no today because this is not good for Kentucky, it’s not good for families, it’s not good for people,” said Fugate.

The bill directs the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to oversee and regulate sports wagering, and only licensed tracks can obtain a sports wagering license through the commission. It also bans anyone participating in a sporting event either as a player, coach, official or owner of a team from placing a wager on a game or event they’re associated with

Governor Beshear says he would sign sports wagering legislation, but it would have to pass the Senate first. Last year, legislation passed in the House, but it was never heard on the Senate floor.