February 20, 2019 6:36am
GLI backs sports-wagering legislation
GLI joined business groups from through Kentucky in urging the legislature to pass sports-wagering legislation. House Bill 175, sponsored by Representative Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), authorizes sports wagering, sports fantasy contests, and online poker in Kentucky and establishes a fair and responsible regulatory system. The bill presents Kentucky with a unique opportunity to get ahead of our competitor states, grow jobs, and help pay down the Commonwealth’s crushing public pension debt.
GLI and other Kentucky business organizations – including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Commerce Lexington, and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce – sent a joint letter to members of the General Assembly encouraging their support for HB175.
HB175 comes in reaction to a Supreme Court ruling in May 2018, which determined that individual states have the right to legalize and regulate wagering on sports. So far, eight states have already passed legislation in reaction to the ruling, allowing for numerous new business opportunities and spurring economic growth. Most of Kentucky’s bordering states, however, are yet to act. West Virginia passed sports-wagering legislation last year.
The economic growth potential of sports wagering could be significant. A 2017 study by Oxford Economics estimated that the legalization of sports wagering could contribute $14.2 billion to US GDP and create more than 150,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout the nation based on mid-range estimates. In Kentucky, the study projected a $124 million impact on GDP and close to 1,500 jobs (also based on mid-range estimates). Whether or not Kentucky gets a chance to prove those projections correct or incorrect is up to the General Assembly.
The bill establishes a smart regulatory framework and provides for a licensing and taxation structure. Fiscal analysts have estimated that licensing fees and taxes in HB175 could generate between $19 and $48 million per year in new state revenues. The high range is dependent on the legal status of sports wagering in Kentucky’s neighboring states. Under this legislation, five percent of new revenues would go to gambling addiction programs, while the rest would go to public pensions.
Kentucky has a long, counterproductive history of being late to the game and missing opportunities to get ahead of the curve. HB175 offers a rare chance for the Commonwealth to be proactive and get ahead of other states in our region, allow for new business ventures and expansions, and find additional sources of revenue to help pay down the state’s pension obligations. This is a bill that all members of the General Assembly should fully support. The Kentucky business community encourages its passage in the 2019 regular session.