LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Sports bets already are being placed in states around Kentucky.
Now, with a new governor who is backing sports betting, and bi-partisan support, the Bluegrass State is moving toward it.
Tuesday night, in his State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Andy Beshear talked about needed revenue in Kentucky, and sports betting as a beginning to get some of that money.
House Bill 137 would legalize sports betting at horse racing tracks and the Kentucky Speedway and include the ability to bet on the state’s college sports teams. It was approved by a House committee Wednesday morning.
“Right now, we’re watching more than $500 million in gaming revenue go across the border,” Beshear said in his address.
While previous attempts have died in the Kentucky legislature, it now appears that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are showing support for an amended measure.
Sponsored by Republican Adam Koenig, of Erlanger, the bill would legalize sports bets at race tracks and the Kentucky Speedway and it was amended to also allow betting on teams of in-state public universities, like UofL and UK.
“I think you’ve got to have it,” local sports talk radio host Drew Deener said. “If you couldn’t do that, there’s probably half the people at a football or basketball game that have an online bookie that they are making halftime bets, pregame bets, in-game bets.”
Deener added that there are too many options, and without that amendment, bettors would have an inferior product and go somewhere else.
“Why waste your time if you can’t do it all?” Deener asked. “You either do it all two feet in or you do it two feet out, in my opinion.”
John Farris, of Commonwealth Economics, told the committee an Oxford Economics report in 2017 of legal U.S. sports bets on-line and in-person put a profit of about $75 per adult. To be conservative, an adjusted examination for Kentucky, that profit for Kentucky was adjusted down to $48. Farris explained once the state taxes the profits, “Kentucky should reasonably expect $22.5 million in annual tax revenue.”
The Family Foundation of Kentucky maintains sports betting is expanded gaming and needs a constitutional amendment, which would require a public vote. Other lawmakers argued that that’s not the case.
For now, House Bill 137 will move on to the full House.