The proponents of legal sports betting services in Kentucky are making another attempt to guarantee the passing of their proposal, this time combining it with a package of gambling-related measures.
At the beginning of the week, Representative Adam Koenig explained that the legalization of sports betting would allow local residents to place bets on live sports events.
The new legislative package, which was officially unveiled on February 28th, adds to the stack of issues that have been faced by the state lawmakers over the final weeks of this year’s legislative season. The previous sessions of local lawmakers have seen similar sports betting measures die, reflecting the controversial nature of the gambling issues in Kentucky.
Proponents of previous pieces of legislation estimated that the legalization of sports betting would account for annual revenue of about $22 million. According to them, the legalization measure is necessary because it will prevent local residents from traveling to neighboring states (Illinois, Virginia, Indiana, West Virginia, Tennessee that already have legal sports betting services up and running, and Ohio, where sports betting is set to become officially available in 2023.
The bill, which was officially unveiled at the beginning of the week, seeks to make legal most forms of sports betting and regulate the tax of all forms of online gambling, including online poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS).
Four Separate Bill and One “Mega Bill” Part of the New Gambling Legislative Package in Kentucky
On February 28th, another proposal, seeking to bring changes to the tax structure on pari-mutuel betting and horse racing, was also unveiled. The measure proposes to impose a 1.5% tax on all pari-mutuel bets, including advance-deposit betting, simulcast wagers and so-called historical horse racing.
Furthermore, the piece of legislation also suggests that so-called “gray machines”, which look like regular slot machines and pay money prizes out to customers, are suspended. These machines have been extremely successful in the state of Kentucky.
Representative Koenig has explained that he hopes to combine the multiple proposals in one legislative measure. In case that strategy does not work, he further noted that he will try to pass as many individual legislative measures as he can. After failed attempts in 2019 and 2020, he eventually announced 5 bills associated with gambling.
Four of the proposed measures are individual pieces of legislation, while the fifth is a “mega bill” combining all of the four separate bills in one larger measure that seeks to make enormous changes in the Kentucky gambling industry. Apart from the bills seeking to legalize sports betting, crack down on the aforementioned “gray machines” and update the law for historical horse racing and impose taxes on the practice, there is also a problem gambling piece of legislation that seeks to establish gambling addiction prevention and treating programs across the state.