New sports gambling bill working its way through Kentucky’s state legislature
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The old saying goes, “if you don’t succeed, try again.” That old saying rings true for sports gambling in Kentucky.
This week, Representative Michael Meredith filed a new bill to legalize sports gambling statewide.
“I’m betting on this thing getting out the Senate,” Meredith said. “That’s what I’m betting on. I just think that we have come forward with a really strong product this year, built on the foundation that had been built in previous years.”
The bill, HB551, would establish the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as the regulatory body.
KHRC would distribute licenses statewide to the racetracks, which could then contract companies like DraftKings, FanDuel and others to oversee and run the operations.
Each track can contract with up to three sports gaming companies.
“I don’t think the tracks, for the most part, have the desire to actually run their own programs by themselves,” Meredith said. “There are other states around us that have casinos and DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, those groups are contracting with the casinos in those states. In our state, they’re going to be contracting with the tracks to provide this both in person and on a mobile basis.”
Meredith’s bill also has some differences from the bill filed last year by former Representative Adam Koenig.
Namely, it removes online poker and daily fantasy games, while cleaning up some outdated language.
It also appears to be, at the outset, more supported by lawmakers in Frankfort, including Senate Floor Leader Damon Thayer.
“[Senator Thayer and I] have been communicating weekly, sometimes more than once a week, leading up to the filing of the bill,” Meredith said. “He’s very, very supportive and he’s going to be a huge help over on the Senate side.”
Support parlayed with revenue, which Meredith believes could break $20 million a year.
Meredith said the revenue generated will be earmarked for the state’s public pension fund.
He told WAVE News between $1 billion and $2 billion are wagered per year by residents of Kentucky, either out of state or on illegal sites.
Meredith also said a geo-fencing service told lawmakers roughly 181,000 unique sports gaming accounts have been registered by Kentucky residents in other states.
He believes it’s time to bring that money back home.
“Based on the numbers we’re kicking around and looking at, I believe we have the votes to pass it in the House,” Meredith said. “But I also believe, that we’re somewhere within one to three votes in the Senate of being able to meet their higher threshold too.”
Meredith told WAVE News the bill will be assigned to the state’s Occupations and Licensing Committee.
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