Kentucky sports betting clears key legislative hurdle

A Senate committee approved the bill 9-1, sending it to the full Senate for a vote.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 4:44 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Billions of dollars are being wagered on sports and Kentucky is now a step closer to cashing in.

A State Senate committee passed a bill legalizing sports betting in the state, sending it on to the full Senate.

The Senate has previously been the hang-up for sports wagering.

While a final vote won’t be taken for a few days, getting a sports betting bill out of committee was a major hurdle for the bill’s supporters.

“There’s over a billion dollars bet illegally right now, and we know there’s a significant amount of the marketplace that is just going over the state line to place their wagers as well,” State Representative Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) said.

The ‘Sport of Kings’ may no longer be the only sport Kentuckians can bet on.

Lawmakers approved sending a sports betting bill to the Senate. It would give Kentuckians the ability to bet on their favorite teams here, rather than driving across the border.

“Over five million checks were performed in Kentucky on 181,000 unique accounts registered with legal jurisdictions that border us,” Meredith said.

The state’s horse tracks would set up sports betting facilities, or partner with sports betting providers. Kentucky’s taxes on sports betting would pay for pensions, problem gaming, and covering the cost of oversight.

Lawmakers believe the state could rake in $22 million.

“Tennessee, which by all accounts is a more conservative state than Kentucky, just brought in $68 million for its general fund,” State Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) said.

Opponents of the bill said expanding gambling will only destroy families. They argued lawmakers decision to ban gray machines should shame them into defeating this bill too.

“I certainly hope this body won’t turn around and turn every iPhone into a digital casino that kids will have access to,” Kentucky Family Foundation Director David Walls said.

If the bill passes the Senate, Governor Andy Beshear (D-Kentucky) said he will sign it.

“Absolutely, it is time, it was time 10 years ago,” Beshear said. “I’m hopeful that a bill will reach my desk. I will sign it as quickly as I can.”

The Senate will likely take up the bill for a vote at the end of the week.