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Sports betting bill gains momentum by clearing House panel

The proposal would allow wagering on college sports teams in Kentucky. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
The proposal would allow wagering on college sports teams in Kentucky. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)(WKYT)
Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 11:20 AM EST
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Every member of the house committee voted for House Bill 137 Wednesday—the same result as last year. But it could not pass the 2019 full legislature.

“I think the outcome will be be different, this time, one it’s a revenue measure, we needed 60 votes in the House, 23 in the Senate, which we won’t need this year,” said Rep. Adam Koenig, the sponsor of House Bill 137.

It will need just 51 votes to pass the House and 20 to clear the Senate and it already has bi-partisan support. Koenig is a Republican.

“To me it’s a common sense bill. I can’t think of any good reasons to not support this bill,” said Rep. Al Gentry, a Democrat from Louisville who sat beside Koenig while introducing the bill in the panel Wednesday morning. While the committee passed it unanimously, that doesn’t mean everyone in the room supported it.

“We believe it would further serve to target the poor, in particular young people, “said Martin Cothran of the conservative Family Foundation group.

Cothran believes the bill is actually expanded gambling and that requires voters to amend the constitution.

“A lot of it has to do with constitutional questions. There are more constitutional questions about this bill than other bills I’ve seen up here in a few years,” said Cothran.

The Kentucky Racing Commission would oversee sports wagering and bets could be made at horse tracks, the Kentucky Speedway, and through on line avenues. Economists say it could bring in more than $22 million dollars for the state.

“This bill is not going to solve our challenges, we know that. But it is a good first step. It’s a stop toward creating revenue,” said Gentry.

Governor Beshear says he supports the measure but its fate is not clear in the Senate.

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