A sports wagering bill with ties to Kentucky racetracks and the state racing commission was filed Feb. 22 by Rep. Michael Meredith (Republican, Brownsville). Eleven other legislators join Meredith as sponsors.
House Bill 551 would legalize gambling on live professional and amateur sporting events, giving Kentuckians access to similar betting options as individuals in neighboring legalized sports wagering states such as Indiana and Ohio.
HB 551 would require online gaming providers to associate with a Kentucky racetrack, with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission acting as regulator. Wagers could be placed at a licensed facility or online through a website or mobile app.
Prior attempts to pass sports wagering have failed. Last year, a bill cleared the Kentucky House of Representatives but never came up for a vote in the Senate. Though sports wagering has Senate support from some influential lawmakers, such as majority floor leader Damon Thayer (Republican, Georgetown), the Republican majority in the Senate could not reach a consensus on support last year.
This bill does not include online poker and fantasy sports, perhaps making it more palatable to some lawmakers in a socially conservative state.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear backs sports wagering.
Its potential passage is complicated by state procedures in odd-numbered years, resulting in bills involving taxation (as the sports betting bill does) requiring a larger majority to pass. There also is less time to garner support, with sessions shorter than those in even-numbered years.