The conversation on sports betting bills in the state of Kentucky has been renewed on the Super Bowl game day, as local lawmakers are trying to make sports betting legal.
The commonwealth is one of the 13 US states that have still not authorized sports betting services in some form. Some local legislators, however, are trying to change that.
For the time being, the Kentucky Legislature is reflecting on two pieces of legislation, both of which are seeking to make sports betting legal – House Bill 106 and Senate Bill 73. So far, there has been a number of failed legislative attempts to legalize sports betting over the last few years, but it seems that some lawmakers are willing to change that by the end of 2023.
Others, such as Senator David Yates, do not believe that the state lawmakers are ready to make this step and get things done within the current legislative session, which is why he believes that making sports betting legal is a long shot, or at least for now. Although Senator Yates is the sponsor of Senate Bill 73, which is mostly focused on legalizing betting on sports in Kentucky, he noted that the piece of legislation is narrow in scope.
Unlike the attempts made over the previous years, any bill that is being taken into consideration in 2023 will have to take a narrower approach to sports betting in order to be better focused on the new form of gambling, Mr. Yates shared. This basically means that other forms of gambling, such as betting on fantasy sports and online poker, are out of the picture.
Challenges on the Way of Sports Betting Legalization Remain, Despite Bipartisan Support
According to Kentucky Sports Betting Now, which carried out a survey in 2022, more than two-thirds of Kentucky residents are supportive of sports betting legalization in some form. The data provided by the group also showed that the widespread support for the new form of gambling comes from some political parties, with a majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents being supportive of the change.
This basically means that the proposal already has bipartisan support, and the supporters of the new form of gambling would only have to make sure they have enough of it. According to Senator Yates, every member of the Democratic Party and the Governor of the state supported the measure, along with the leadership of the Republican Party.
When it comes to opposition, it mostly highlights the “lack of morality” associated with gambling. According to opponents of the two proposed bills, the legalization of sports betting may result in an increase in gambling addiction rates in Kentucky.
Governor Andy Beshear has spoken in favor of the proposed sports betting legalization, highlighting the recent success of the market registered in Kentucky’s surrounding states, where betting on sports has already been made legal.
The shortened legislative session is also challenging because local legislators only have 30 days to pass any piece of legislation. Apart from that, the shortened legislative session also means that a higher vote threshold will have to be passed by any bill that reaches the Senate. This year’s threshold is 23 votes, while last year only 20 votes were needed for a piece of legislation to pass.