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New Kentucky sports betting bill unlikely to include online poker

Kentucky gambling news

State Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) has revealed he will be filing a bill that aims to legalize sports betting in Kentucky.

Meredith is picking up the slack from former state Rep. Adam Koenig, who was a strong advocate for the introduction of regulated sports wagering. However, when it was put to vote last year at the senate, Koenig’s bill did not receive any votes because the Republican majority were opponents of sports betting.

This year, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, who is a strong supporter of the bill, has said that the bill will receive a better reception.

“Anything can happen, I’m not willing to lay odds on it at this point, but I think the chances are better than last year,” Thayer said.

“My hope is we can make some progress this year and then if we aren’t successful, then it sets up next year when we have a longer session and lower threshold. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on this year.”

Meredith revealed that he has been working hand-in-hand with Thayer to get the latest version of the Kentucky sports betting bill over the line.

“Sen. Thayer and I are communicating every couple or three days right now back and forth on different things that have popped up in discussions with the industry and other folks who have brought ideas to me,” Meredith said.

“I’m trying to keep him as much in the loop as possible, and he and Rep. (Al) Gentry (D-Louisville) will be two of the first people that get a draft, after the speaker gets his obviously. We are communicating though, Sen. Thayer and I are, about some of the decisions we’re trying to make and getting the final drafting done, too. Just what is more palatable in his caucus, and where he thinks some of his members are on different things.”

Although Meredith did not speak much about the details of the bill, which is still in the drafting stage, he did say that the procedures for licensees would remain the same and online poker was unlikely to be included in the bill.

“The main thing is the ultimate licensees will still likely be the tracks, and maybe some general flexibility on their contracting and operators that they work with,” he said.

“Likely online poker will be out of the new draft, and then, most of the rest of it will be some form of modernization of language from when it started a few years ago.”

Meredith also disclosed his intention to provide funding for problem gambling; however, he stated that this would not just be powered by revenue from sports betting alone.

“I think most of us think that that needs to be handled in some kind of a comprehensive fashion,” he said.

“Either the state creating a pot of money through the budget for that or all forms of gaming taking part… If other types of gambling are going to benefit from that, I don’t think sports wagering should be the only one funding it, and so I have resisted any calls or urges to fund that specifically in the sports wagering bill.

“I have told everybody I would certainly work with them on something more comprehensive, either this year or next year, depending on how they want to address that issue.”

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