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Sports Wagering Bill Advances in Frankfort

The House Committee on Licensing, Occupation, and Administrative Regulations passed House Bill 175, sponsored by Representative Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) that would fully legalize sports wagering in the Commonwealth in light of last year’s Supreme Court decision allowing states to legalize the practice.

House Bill 175 would allow legal sports betting, online poker and fantasy sports. The measure includes betting on both professional and collegiate sports, with an exception for schools within Kentucky.

“In light of last year’s Supreme Court decision, it is time that we take the proactive step of providing adults the freedom to legally engage in sports betting,” Koenig said. “Kentucky has a chance to be ahead of the curve on this issue, while also potentially capitalizing on much-needed revenue gains without raising taxes.”

The measure includes safeguards in order to keep the practice within a tight regulatory framework, such as preventing minors from placing bets. Among other regulations, the legislation would allow the state’s race tracks to offer sports betting, both on-site and through a mobile app. In order to download the app, a user would need to go the track to sign up for it.

The bill calls for revenue gains after necessary administrative expenses to be earmarked for the permanent pension fund, with some money also being set aside for addiction services.

“By no means do I expect this legislation to produce a massive windfall of revenue into the state coffers that will solve all of our financial problems,” Koenig added. “But with numerous citizens already engaging in betting practices, it is time for the Commonwealth to reap some of that revenue, while also allowing adults the freedom to make their own decisions.”

HB 175 requires sports betting to be regulated by the Horse Racing Commission, online poker to be regulated by the state lottery, and for fantasysports to be regulated by the Public Protection Cabinet. The legislation will move the House Floor for consideration.

From the Legislative Research Commission
Photo: Adam Koenig (via LRC)