A piece of legislation seeking to make sports betting legal in Kentucky managed to pass the state’s House on March 13th, setting up a clash in the Senate over a proposal that has separated the Republican supermajorities into divisions.
The situation is delicate because this is not the first effort to legalize sports betting in the state that got support in the Kentucky House but was struck in the Senate. The proposals for the legalization of sports betting reflect the potential of the gambling issue to cause disagreement in the state, which is known for being home to Churchill Downs – an iconic horse racing complex where the Kentucky Derby takes place.
The main sponsor of the newest sports betting bill, Republican Representative Michael Meredith, has noted that if passed, the proposed piece of legislation would take sports betting in Kentucky out of the shadows and would create a regulated and safe marketplace for everyone who wants to place wagers on sports events.
House Bill 551 would make it possible for horse racing tracks across the state to get sports betting licenses in return for a $500,000 upfront fee and an annual renewal fee of $50,000. Such tracks would be able to ink contracts with up to three service providers in order to offer sports wagering services on-site, or through online betting platforms and mobile sportsbook applications. The new form of gambling would be regulated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
As mentioned above, Rep. Meredith’s sports betting bill managed to clear the state’s House with 63 votes in favor and 34 against it, but its prospects in Kentucky Senate remain uncertain, as the measure’s supporters would have to overcome a higher procedural obstacle in 2023. The proposed piece of legislation would need a three-fifths vote supporting it in each chamber to pass due to the fact that it is a revenue-producing bill in an odd-numbered year.
Measure’s Opponents Fear Sports Betting Would Have Negative Impact on Local People
The opponents of the proposed measure have already established a defensive position in light of the looming fight that is expected in the Senate over Rep. Meredith’s sports betting bill.
After the House vote took place, the Family Foundation issued an opinion saying that the piece of legislation seeking to legalize sports betting in Kentucky represented a massive expansion of predatory form of gambling at a time when local residents could least afford it. The official statement issued by the Family Foundation notes that the local legislative body’s vote on the potential further expansion of predatory gambling services was shocking, especially at a time when a vote seeking to ban “grey machines” was much promoted in the state of Kentucky.
After failing to get sports betting legalized for a few years now, the supporters of the measure have commented that it was high time for the state of Kentucky to give the green light to a form of gambling that was already available in the majority of Kentucky’s neighboring states. Currently, sports betting is literally available beyond the state’s border, with local customers often traveling to neighboring states to place bets.
If legalized, sports betting is expected to generate annual tax revenue of approximately $23 million.
According to the opponents of the proposed piece of legislation, state-sanctioned sports betting would only create more social problems for local people, hurting both individuals and their families. They claim that the legalization of sports betting services would not be good for the state of Kentucky, even though the new form of gambling is expected to bring jobs to the rural parts of the state.