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Another Kentucky sports betting bill heads to Senate

Kentucky gambling news

A proposal to authorize sports betting in Kentucky is on its way to the Senate after the House voted in favor of it (63-34) on Monday evening.

This is the second year in a row that a bill of this nature is progressing to the Kentucky Senate. HB 606 made it past the House last March, but it died in the Senate the following month.

While the House approval is encouraging for sports betting supporters, Rep. Michael Meredith, HB 551’s main sponsor, acknowledged that getting a positive vote from the Senate would be significantly more challenging. Kentucky’s legislative session will conclude on March 30, meaning that state senators have around two weeks to make a decision on the sports betting bill.

During Monday’s meeting, Meredith pointed out that if approved, the bill would regulate an activity that was already in existence in Kentucky. He explained that residents regularly used unregulated offshore betting sites or crossed state borders to place bets.

READ: Kentucky residents create over 180,000 interstate betting accounts

Meredith estimated that licensed Kentucky sportsbooks would generate $20 million in tax revenue every year. He also pointed out that six out of the seven states around Kentucky’s borders – Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and Indiana – have already legalized sports betting.

“Not only have six of our seven border states [legalized sports betting], but 46 counties of the 120 counties in Kentucky border a state that has legalized sports betting within their borders,” Meredith stated.

“You literally just have to drive across the county line or across the river to take part in their programs.”

If approved, HB 551 will create sports betting permits for nine horse racing tracks in the state. Each racing track will be able to open in-person sportsbooks and collaborate with up to three online sports wagering operators, resulting in as many as 27 mobile sportsbooks in the state.

An amendment to the bill on Monday directed a small part of the gaming revenue to a new problem-gambling fund. This is designed to help the bill get the required votes among the Senate members. A second change to the measure eliminated the requirement for in-person registration for mobile betting.

Online betting revenue would be taxed at 14.25%, while in-person sports betting revenue has been placed at 9.75%. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will function as the state’s betting regulator.

Several proposed amendments were rejected by the House, including a request to increase the legal betting age from 18 to 21. The committee also rejected an amendment to ban using credit cards to deposit funds into a betting account.

Parties opposing the bill claimed that if approved, it would increase gambling-related harm to Kentucky residents.

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