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Kentucky remains undecided about legalizing sports betting

Kentucky is one of the few states that has yet to legalize sports betting, and since the bill was introduced earlier this year, reports indicate that it has received little attention.

This is despite the fact that all of its surrounding states have legalized sports betting, such as Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, West Virginia, and Indiana.

Hence, this has constantly been driving Kentuckians to be consistently drawn to place their bets in the cities that are located in close proximity to them. In all, the Kentucky legislature has not felt the need to prioritize sports betting over other concerns that may require legal authorization.

The House bill HB 606 to legalize sports betting was introduced on March 15, 2022, by a former state representative, Adam Koenig, who is one of the chief pioneers of the bill. The bill received a vote of 58-30, a majority of the house, but was still left unattended subsequently.

The executive director of the Family Foundation, David Walls, who is of the opposition party to the bill, lent his voice early in March, noting that the bill is “predatory” and that it is tailored to feed on human weakness, which will amount to the government collaborating with the industry to take advantage of Kentucky residents.

“It is an industry designed not to create wealth, but to simply transfer wealth primarily from the poor to the wealthy,” Walls said.

Backing up Wall’s statement, House of Representatives member Chris Fugate said legalizing the act will encourage immoral activity in the state. A couple of others have also come to say it will promote problem gambling and other illegal activities in the state.

More recently, the subject of sports betting was raised at a round table at the annual Legislative Preview Conference that was held on Monday by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which featured both the Speaker of the House, David Osborne, and the President of the Senate, Robert Stivers.

The moderator, chamber CEO Ashli Watts, asked both legislators their views on who will champion the 606 bill movement since Koenig lost his seat when he was defeated in a Republican primary in May.

“I don’t know if a champion as such has come to the front, but it’s going to be an issue that continues to get discussion,” Osborne said.

“And I think the more we see it expand around us, the more the conversation going to be. I think that we are now the last state of our surrounding state that hasn’t passed it.”

On the other hand, Stivers, who is an opponent of the bill, in response said: “I’m ambivalent about it. I’ve always said it is not a big issue in the overall scheme of things. It is not a political issue. If it was such as winning issue I don’t think Adam Koenig would have lost.”

It is also important to note that betting on race horses in the state of Kentucky is legally approved. This is because, contrary to sports wagering, horse racing employs a “pari-mutuel” system in which all bets are combined into a single pot and there are no predetermined odds. On the other hand, in sports betting, individual players place bets against the odds that are predetermined by a sportsbook.

There is no doubt that Koenig and the other proponents of legalizing sports wagering in Kentucky will try again in 2023. They have the backing of Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear, who has stated that he is in favor of legalizing sports betting in the state. However, the state Senate’s conservative majority and Kentucky’s long-standing objection to betting on games with set odds would be difficult obstacles to surmount.

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