A Kentucky gambling bill that includes online poker cleared a major hurdle Friday.
Per the language in the bill, all revenue would be used to support the state pension fund.
Kentucky bill next steps after passing the House
With nine days remaining in the legislative session, the bill now heads to the Senate. Republicans hold a 30 to 38 margin in the Senate so the bill faces an uphill climb.
There are also several other gambling-related items on the legislative agenda.
- A bill to create the $225 million Kentucky Problem Gambling Fund
- Alter state’s tax structure for pari-mutuel wagering on horse races to 1.5%
- Outlaw gray machines
The Kentucky General Assembly will recess on March 30 for the veto session. Lawmakers will return to Frankfort on April 13 and adjourn on April 14.
Online gambling support for Kentucky bill
During a committee hearing earlier this week, Rep. Al Gentry said lawmakers have the chance to do what a majority of the US has already done.
“I think we have the ability to make the decisions for ourselves. People who bet on sports, for the most part, already do it — We’re going to regulate that, and we’re going to end that, and we’re going to do what the majority of states in the United States already have, which is legalized and regulated sports wagering.”
HB 606 does have support in its corner. In addition to Gentry, who strongly supports the gambling industry, Governor Andy Beshear also favors the expansion of gambling.
In January, Beshear had this to say:
“I believe the time was right years and years and years ago when virtually every state around us, all Republican states, already have it. We talk about having a competitive business climate but right now we’re not allowing business that every state around us is.
“The fact is you can drive right across the border, virtually any of our borders, and on your cell phone make a bet, and a dollar or a percentage of that bet is going to go to those states for their roads and bridges, for their schools and for other needs. The fact that we haven’t done it at this point is not only silly but puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”
A poll earlier this year, by the Public Opinion Strategies for Kentucky Sports Betting Now found 65% of KY residents support the expansion of gambling.
Late to the game, finally catching up to neighboring states
Kentucky has found itself surrounded by states with legal online gambling in recent years.
To the north, Indiana and Illinois have established lucrative online gambling markets. To the East, West Virginia was one of the early movers to legalize online sports betting and online casino games. Recently, Virginia legalized sports betting and the construction of five new casinos.
Lastly, the Tennessee online sports betting market allows residents of Kentucky to cross the border and begin placing bets.
Ohio lawmakers plan to introduce online gambling no later than January 1, 2023.