The long and dramatic path through the latest legislative session in Kentucky, a piece of legislation seeking to legalize sports betting is ready to become law.
Now, the piece of legislation called House Bill 551 managed to clear the Senate chamber of the Kentucky Legislature by a 25-12 vote. Now, the bill heads to Governor Andy Beshear, who supports the bill and is considered ready to sign it into law right away.
Under the provisions of the bill, the Kentucky Speedway and horse racing tracks would be allowed to operate sports betting facilities in return for a fee, with bets allowed both on-site and online on licensed mobile apps or gambling platforms. Wagers placed at tracks would be subject to a 9.75% excise tax, while online wagers would be subject to a 14.25% excise tax.
The last year’s legislative session saw the House pass an almost identical piece of legislation but the bill then was shelved in the Senate because it did not manage to gain the necessary majority support. House Bill 551 could have had the same fate, considering the fact that Damon Thayer, the Senate Majority Floor Leader, revealed that the piece of legislation still did not have gathered the 23 votes necessary for it to pass as of Thursday morning.
However, the bill’s fate quickly changed by the end of the day, when it was placed on the orders of the day and came to the Senate floor only half an hour later.
Both Retail and Online Sports Betting Will Be Available to Kentucky Puntors
When House Bill 551 is signed by Governor Andy Beshear, Kentucky will officially join the US states that have already legalized sports betting, with the new law set to go into effect at the end of June.
Before the vote on the Senate floor, the Senate Majority Floor Leader noted that the proposed piece of legislation is expected to bring annual tax revenue of approximately $23 million, with the proceeds set to be directed to the public pension system of the state. The fact that Kentucky residents are known as sports lovers, it was really important for them to be able to choose whether to make a bet on sports events or not – just like almost all neighboring states do.
One of the lawmakers who voted against the proposed bill – Senator Whitney Westerfield – noted that while the Senate Majority Floor Leader may be right about the revenue that could be brought to the state as a result of sports betting legalization, Kentucky people will be the ones to lose a lot of money before the state gets it back. Apart from that, Ms. Westerfield shared her concern that vulnerable people and people who cannot afford to lose money on gambling services would be negatively affected.
A total of 18 senators from the 30-member GOP caucus, including President Robert Stivers, voted in favor of House Bill 551. All seven Democrats in the Senate also supported the piece of legislation. Governor Beshear even tweeted a celebratory message after the bill was given the green light.