Testimony heard in Frankfort on sports wagering bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) – For about an hour Wednesday morning, testimony from varying viewpoints was heard in Frankfort in regards to a sports wagering bill.

Courtesy: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar // MGN

The bill (HB 175,) would allow sports wagering at any horse racing track as well as the Kentucky speedway. Additionally, Kentuckians would be able to bet through these facilities mobile apps while in the state.

Lawmakers held off voting on the bill Wednesday, as the state economic report was released, saying they need time to review it.

Rep. Adam Koenig filed the bill that would legalize betting on sporting events both professional and at the college level, as well as online poker, and fantasy sports. Currently, the bill excludes the ability to bet on teams from schools in Kentucky.

Lawmakers heard from an economist who researched the bill, and who estimates that the sports wagering component alone would generate about $20-million dollars a year for the state. He then testified that if surrounding states do not legalize that number could be as large as about $48-million a year.

Some of that money would go to regulation of the law and gambling addiction help. The rest, which rep Koenig says would be a large portion, would go to the states underfunded pension system.

New Jersey was a state used as an example during Wednesday’s testimony

“The estimates of what they would do in New Jersey were all low,” says Rep. Koenig. “They are all exceeding expectations and I think that is because it is something people do, and people are crying out to do legally.”

The Family Foundation testified against the bill today, citing concerns with some of the language in the bill they believe opens the state to gambling on non-sporting events like the Oscars and Grammys. They also voiced worries that the bill violates Kentucky’s constitution.

Rep. Koenig says he feels good about the bill’s chances this session and hopes it happens this year.

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