An unpopular Kentucky sports betting provision will get the axe during a committee hearing Wednesday.
The House Licensing, Occupations & Administrative Regulations Committee will hold a hearing on HB 551 tomorrow at 9 am. Bill author Rep. Michael Meredith told PlayUSA that the in-person registration requirement for online sports betting accounts will be removed in committee.
The clause was a surprise addition when Meredith filed his Kentucky sports betting bill two weeks ago.
Meredith based the bill around legislation passed by the House last year, which did not include the requirement. He streamlined the bill by removing online poker and daily fantasy sports to give it a better chance in the Senate.
Meredith said the in-person registration requirement also was added at the request of a Senator. But it proved unpopular with Kentucky racetracks and sportsbook operators.
Meredith expects the bill to advance from committee tomorrow without the requirement that could hinder the Kentucky sports betting market.
Senator not just waiting around for Kentucky sports betting
Last year, Gov. Andy Beshear called out Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer for not doing enough to pass Kentucky sports betting.
The comment came off as party politics between the Democratic governor and the state’s Republican-led legislature. Thayer did all he could to push for sports betting passage once the House bill reached the Senate. He just couldn’t change the minds of the Senate President and Republican colleagues.
But this year Thayer has upped his effort by making many press appearances to advocate for Kentucky sports betting even before the bill reaches his chamber, including speaking with PlayUSA.
Recently, he appeared with Meredith on KET (Kentucky Educational Television), which airs legislative hearings.
Thayer said on the program:
“I believe that sports betting is a natural extension of our history and tradition of betting on horses in Kentucky. That’s sports wagering. It’s legally defined in the parimutuel statutes. And I just know this is extremely popular. It polls off the charts – 65%+ of Kentuckians including the majority of Republicans think we should have sports wagering in Kentucky.”
Thayer said Kentucky lawmakers constantly hear about sports betting from their constituents.
“Everywhere I go, whether it’s the gym, the grocery store, the movies, a UK basketball game, I recently went to an NKU game up in Northern Kentucky, and it’s the first thing people ask me – when are you going to pass sports betting? It’s ridiculous, they say, that we don’t have sports betting. Even people who don’t want to make a sports bet want to know when we’re going to pass it because they think it’s something we should have.”
Poll shows overwhelming support for KY sports betting
Public Opinion Strategies conducted the polling to which Thayer referred.
The poll conducted of 500 primary voters in February showed strong support for Kentucky sports betting from all demographics.
- Overall: 65% support, 26% oppose
- Republicans: 58% support, 34% oppose
- Democrats 69% support, 22% oppose
- Independents 81% support, 10% oppose
- Trump ’20 voters: 60% support, 30% oppose
Robert Blizzard of Public Opinion Strategies concluded that a plurality of voters say voting for sports betting will make them more likely to vote for their state senator in future elections.
Meredith hopes to get HB 551 through the House next week and on to the Senate. The short Kentucky legislative session ends March 30. As an odd year, Kentucky bills must pass by a three-fifths vote in each chamber.