The state of Kentucky will be looking to legalize sports betting in 2021 after a failed attempt in 2020. There is plenty of optimism this time around, and one major political leader is nearly guaranteeing that something will get done this year.
Governor Andy Beshear has been a proponent of legalizing sports betting in the past, but now he is being very vocal about his stance. Beshear has been making public comments since the New Year began in an attempt to put some pressure on state lawmakers.
Appearing on Kentucky Educational Television, Beshear delivered these remarks on the subject of sports betting, “I believe the time was right years and years and years ago when virtually every state around us, all Republican states, already have it… The fact that we haven’t done it at this point is not only silly but puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”
Beshear was speaking on the growth of sports betting in the Midwest portion of the US, and five of the seven states that border Kentucky have already legalized the industry. Those five states are Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Kentucky is looking for more tax revenue in an effort to rebuild the economy due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beshear points out that not only is Kentucky leaving money on the table, but they are losing out on potential revenue to border states.
Leading The Charge
Representative Adam Koenig is expected to be the man that leads the sports betting charge in 2021 after his bill lost support last year in committee. Koenig has already expressed worry that there might not be enough time for lawmakers to pass a bill in 2021, but it could happen with support from the governor.
Missouri and Ohio are two other states expected to look at legalizing sports betting in 2021, and that would put even more pressure on the state of Kentucky. Governor Beshear wants it to happen this year, but it is up to the lawmakers to get a bill onto his desk.
Horse Racing Another Concern
Sports betting will likely generate plenty of discussion in 2021, but it will be Historical Horse Racing machines that garner much of the attention at the beginning. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled against some of the slot-like games last year, forcing lawmakers to create new legislation.
The Historical Horse Racing machines brought in more than $33 million in tax revenue last year, and the state can’t afford to lose out on that money. There are just 30 days in the legislative session in 2021, and dealing with this issue could take up nearly all of the time.
Governor Beshear took things a step further when declaring that he also wants casino gambling in the state of Kentucky as well. Historical Horse Racing and sports betting are the clear priorities in 2021, but the governor has some big plans for the state.
Currently, there are no commercial casinos in the state of Kentucky.