Break until April 13

Kentucky sports betting bill stays afloat after Senate second reading; sponsors seek more support

Kentucky Rep. Adam Koenig, bill sponsor.
Reading time 1:31 min

The Kentucky Senate gave House Bill 606 a second reading on Wednesday, the final day lawmakers could pass bills before the veto period for Gov. Andy Beshear begins. Supporters of the bill that seeks to legalize sports betting in the state say the measure is not dead yet. 

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled legislature will return for two more days on April 13-14, but any bills passed during that time period mean they cannot override any vetoes from the governor. 

However, the odds of the governor vetoing the bill are small, as he has already expressed his support for the measure, underscoring Kentukians are instead spending money in other regulated jurisdictions such as Indiana. 

Bill package presentation by sponsor Adam Koenig

It all comes down to the state lawmakers, who allowed the second reading Wednesday. The move is seen as more of a procedural attempt to keep the sports betting bill in motion. 

Even though similar measures have died in prior years, Bill sponsor Rep. Adam Koenig remains positive that this year will make a difference in the state. He estimates more than $2 billion are wagered illegally on sports each year in Kentucky. These new measures are crafted “to bring those people out of the shadows and dry up the black market”, Koenig said. 

He said he will now spend the break trying to get more votes. He stressed that it's a small group of lawmakers he's hoping to get on his side.

Tax revenue generated from sports betting would flow into the state public pension system, as it is expected to generate at least $22.5 million a year in revenue, according to Koenig. 

The bill is actually a bill package that includes Bill 606, which seeks to allow sports wagering; House Bill 609, with the purpose of setting up a gambling assistance fund and board to raise awareness about addiction, as well as establishing programs to help and pay costs associated with treatment; House Bill 607 which was crafted to modernize pari-mutuel wagering by establishing a single tax rate for this sort of wagering of 1.5% and eliminating admission tax; and House Bill 608, which proposes a ban on “gray machines”, which look like slot machines and pay out cash prizes to successful players, and have proliferated in convenience stores across the state. 


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