Some Kentucky lawmakers hoping to get sports betting bill through legislature this year

Some Kentucky lawmakers hoping to get sports betting bill through legislature this year

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — As some Kentucky lawmakers continue to push for the legalization of sports betting, numbers from Ohio have been released.

According to the Ohio Casino Control Commission, in January, people bet more than $1.1 billion. $208.9 million in revenue was made. January was the first month of legal sports betting in Ohio.

“It’s outstanding for their program,” said Rep. Michael Meredith, the primary sponsor of Kentucky’s sports betting bill. “I think it shows us that even if we’ve got every border state around us that has this, you can still have a successful program – even though you’re competing with the states around you.”

“I think Kentucky can be successful in sports wagering as well,” he added.

So, what is the status of Kentucky’s bill?

The bill has been filed and is awaiting a vote from the House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee.

“I think we’ll see a special meeting called either early next week or it’ll be on the agenda for next week’s meeting,” said Meredith. “Vote counts are going well. I have a pretty firm vote count that [shows] we’re going to be in good shape both in committee and on the floor.”

But Meredith says they may not have all the votes they need in the Senate yet.

“We continue to work towards getting the couple – the three more – that we probably need to get the job done,” he said.

But opposition to the bill is waiting as well.

The Family Foundation told LEX 18 that they worry about the social harm sports betting could cause.

“Expanding Predatory gambling harms families and, at the end of the day, costs Kentucky much more than anything that is gained,” said David Walls, the executive director of the Family Foundation.

But Meredith believes the bill would create a safer avenue for people to do something they’re already doing.

“We’ve got a billion dollars in illegal, unregulated sports betting going on in Kentucky right now. That doesn’t count all the people who are going across the state lines,” he said. “We need to regulate the marketplace here. Get this into a legal, regulated structure where we can a little tax money off of it.”

HB 551 would require online gaming providers to associate with a Kentucky horseracing track. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would have regulatory responsibilities over the gaming providers.

Sports gambling could be done through a licensed facility or online through a website or app.

All revenue would go to a newly created sports wagering administrative fund. The fund would provide costs for licensing and regulation.

The proposal would set initial license fees at $500,000 for tracks and $50,000 for gaming providers. Annual renewal costs would be $50,000 for tracks and $10,000 for gaming providers.

The bill would allow gambling on professional and college sports, international sports, e-sports, and video game events.

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