On May 14, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the language in the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), clearing the way for individual states to legalize and regulate sports betting.
With a long history of gambling on the state’s several horse racing venues, Kentucky seemed poised to legalize sports gambling shortly after the SCOTUS decision.
Kentucky sports betting status
In the summer of 2017, State Senator Julian Carroll introduced a sports betting bill that would allow the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to regulate and oversee a sports gambling industry.
This early bill called for a $250,000 licensing fee and a 20 percent tax on the total amount of wagers handled. A few months later, a bill was introduced regarding the construction of casinos in Kentucky, clouding the issues surrounding sports gambling. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin went on record in his opposition of casinos within state borders.
Yet after the SCOTUS decision in May, Bevin said he expected his legislature to do more research on the possibility of sports betting in Kentucky.
The result: A nine-member legislative panel dedicated to “draft and file legislation to implement sports betting in Kentucky.”
Senator Carroll, who is on the panel board, continues to push for a sports betting industry with the Horse Racing Commission at the forefront of regulation. However, the 20 percent handle proposed on Carroll’s bill creates steadfast opposition.
House bill H 536 proposes allowing the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to regulate the industry, similar to the existing structure in Delaware.
While the current Governor remains publicly skeptical about sports wagering in Kentucky, all nine panel members support sports betting and the state’s highly successful horse racing tracks are also keen to expand the offerings at their facilities.
With its close proximity to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware – four of the quickest movers in terms of legalized sports gambling – Kentucky may be forced to act fast or lose a steady source of revenue to those neighboring states.
Sports Betting FAQ
When will sports betting be legal in Kentucky?
Kentucky legislators have no immediate plans to legalize sports gambling, although there is a nine-member panel in session considering the possibilities of allowing sports betting through the state’s lottery or horse tracks. Should the state decide to advance legislation, it could begin accepting bets legally as early as 2019.
Where can I place sports bets in Kentucky?
Nowhere yet, as sports gambling is currently illegal in Kentucky.
Which Kentucky sports teams can I bet on?
Current legislation would allow betting on professional sports, and “possibly some limited instances of college sports,” according to a press release from the state in June. There are several popular collegiate programs within the state, including the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.
Who would oversee Kentucky sports betting?
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) would regulate and oversee the sports betting industry according to the bill drafted by State Senator Julian Carroll. House bill H 536 calls for the state’s lottery commission to regulate the industry.
Can I get into trouble for placing bets with unregulated online sportsbooks in Kentucky?
Yes, in order for a sportsbook to be legal it must be sanctioned by the state and placing bets with an unregulated bookkeeper can result in fines and potential jail time.