Kentucky sports betting made a big step on Monday as the Kentucky House of Representatives passed sports betting legislation, sending it to the Senate.
HB551 passed in the House by a vote of 63-34. If legalized, betting on professional and collegiate sports would be allowed both in-person at their nine horse racing tracks and online. The horse racing tracks would be eligible to contract with up to three operators. In-person betting revenue would be taxed at 9.25% and online revenue would be subject to a 14.25% tax.
If HB551 is passed, it’s expected that it could generate about $23 million in annual tax revenue for the state of Kentucky, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael Meredith.
The bill passed unanimously in a House committee last week.
— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 12, 2023
The Senate Threatens Kentucky Sports Betting Future
Passage in the House was to be expected in Kentucky; the real obstacle will be getting this bill passed in the Senate, especially in an odd-numbered year. The Kentucky legislature requires a two-thirds majority in odd-year legislative sessions. If it were an even-numbered year, only 20 votes would be required, but this year, the bill needs 23.
Outside of this higher procedural hurdle, the bill already has its fair share of stiff opposers – some in the House, but mostly in the Senate.
“I voted no today because this is not good for Kentucky,” Rep. Chris Fugate said. “It’s not good for families. It’s not good for people. And I really hope and pray we get to see some legislation that will bring jobs into east Kentucky and to the rural parts of this state.”
Following the House vote, David Walls of The Family Foundation said HB551 represents “a massive expansion of predatory gambling at a time when Kentuckians can least afford it.”
Kentucky lawmakers proposed a similar sports betting bill last year, which passed in the House with flying colors, but failed to get a vote in the Senate.
Gov. Andy Beshear has already pleaded support for sports betting, so if it does pass the Senate, it will almost certainly become a law. However, the Kentucky legislative session ends on March 30, so there is very little time for deliberation.
Another one 💪
AP All-America, Second Team for Big O. pic.twitter.com/uw8WAfCi05
— Kentucky Men’s Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 14, 2023
Out-Of-State Betting Concern Remains Focus Of Defense
“The reality is, we know there’s a ton of this activity already going on in the state and there’s a ton of residents crossing the border to place their bets. We just need to bring this home and regulate it properly,” Meredith said in last week’s hearing.
Kentucky is bordered by seven states, six of which have legal sports betting markets. This makes it all too easy for people in the state to cross state lines to place their wagers. The only difference is that Kentucky doesn’t receive the tax benefit from it.
“In fact, sometimes you don’t even have to cross the river. I’ve heard from folks in Jefferson County who know the exact parking lot on River Road, where you can go, bounce off an Indiana cell phone tower, and you can place your wager without crossing the river,” said Meredith at the hearing this week.