Kentucky lawmakers will have the chance to pass or deny HB 551, legislation that would regulate sports betting. Kentucky sports betting has failed to pass in previous sessions but there is optimism for the upcoming two-day session beginning Wednesday. The Senate will need 23 votes in favor of the legislation in order for it to advance. Could sports betting be on the horizon in Kentucky?
Senate Holds Fate Of Kentucky Sports Wagering Bill
This position that HB 551 finds itself in is similar to the measure from 2022. Legislation for legal Kentucky sportsbooks advanced out of the House and failed in the Senate. Bill sponsor Rep. Michael Meredith is confident this time around.
Rep. Meredith has been campaigning within the Senate on behalf of this legislation. During the veto recess, the House Rep. has been in discussions with Senators hoping they can garner enough votes. Should the bill pass in the Senate, it would only need a signature from Gov. Andy Beshear.
Gov. Beshear has already publicly made it clear that he is in support of sports wagering in Kentucky. He has indicated that he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. Kentucky’s issues have been a failure to get the legislation that far. Sports betting hinges on the vote in the Senate.
Locals Want Kentucky Sports Betting
GeoComply data shows that Kentucky locals were attempting to wager on March Madness games despite being unable. GeoComply caught and blocked more than 295,000 geolocation checks in Kentucky.
“All the attempts were blocked,” said Bill Miller, President and CEO of American Gaming Association. “This consumer demand makes clear that the alternative to creating a legal marketplace is that Kentuckians will continue betting in the illegal market, with no consumer protections and no benefits generated for the state.”
What The Market Will Look Like
Rep. Meredith’s measure would allow for both retail and online sports betting in the Bluegrass State. Retail sportsbooks would be taxed at a 9.75% rate on revenue while mobile operators would see a 14.25% tax. The legal sports betting age will be set at 21.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) would regulate the market. Local tracks would pay a $500,000 licensing fee and be required to pay $50,000 annually for renewals.
There was initially a requirement of in-person registration for the first 12 months of the market, similar to how Illinois set up. This was amended out of the final measure, however. Also amended was the addition of responsible gaming measures. HB 551 will send 2.5% of the total tax revenue to problem gambling efforts.