Kentucky Gets over First Sports Betting Bill Hurdle


With time running out, Kentucky’s new sports betting bill is making new strides. House Bill 606 cleared the House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee on Wednesday, but there is more progress that must be made.

Lawmakers Make a Push For Sports Betting in Kentucky

House Bill 606 would allow bettors to place wagers on mobile devices. Users of a platform would also be able to place bets on horse racing.

Rep. Adam Koenig is the leading supporter of the bill and is currently making his fourth attempt to legalize sports betting. The bill is heading to the Senate as the clock is ticking. He is convinced that millions across the state illegally place wagers on sports events through an offshore sportsbook or local bookie that could add up to $2 billion yearly, according to the American Gaming Association.

According to supporters of previous sports betting bills, the regulated sports betting market in Kentucky could produce $22 million in yearly revenue. This would also create new jobs for the state as the job market has been struggling in the pandemic.

The Clock is Ticking in Kentucky

Friday was marked as day 51 of a 60-day session. The legislature will take a veto break that will begin on March 31st before returning on the last two days on April 13th.

The sports betting market will take a while to establish in Kentucky. It could most likely take until 2024 to launch. Just like last year, 2023 would be a challenge as odd-number years require a three-fifths majority vote during a 30-day session.

Kentucky Was Close to Legalizing Sports Betting

Two years ago, Koenig’s bill also passed the House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee. It also passed in the second week of a 60-day session before reaching the House floor. Only 41 of the 99 members supported the bill, which left 58 who opposed the bill.

Koenig knows that gaining support from conservatives that reside across the state would be difficult as multiple conservatives spoke against gaming on the floor. Other Republicans were hesitant on voting on the bill in advance as members like Rep. D.J. Johnson don’t like the bill because revenue for the state is accumulated through losses.

At the same time, he wants a regulated market as he knows that illegally wagering is happening throughout the state. Opponents who opposed the bill also filed numerous amendments that ultimately stalled the bill.

However, Koenig has the support of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who is key to pushing the bill.

Kentucky is home to great collegiate programs like the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals. If sports betting was legal in the state, the average betting volume would most likely skyrocket during March Madness. The pressure is on Kentucky as its neighboring states have legalized sports betting markets.

West Virginia lies to the east, Virginia to the southeast, and Tennessee to the south. Illinois and Indiana to the northwest also offer sports betting to sports betting to its residents. Ohio to the north and northeast. Sports betting is legal in Ohio but not yet operational.