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March 9, 2023 9:00am

Sports wagering bill advances in KY House

On Wednesday, House Bill 551 legalizing retail and online sports betting in Kentucky, unanimously passed the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee. Sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) and Rep. Al Gentry (D-Louisville), HB 551 will regulate and tax sports wagering, adding an estimated $23 million in annual revenue to Kentucky.

HB 551 authorizes retail and online sports wagering on professional, college, amateur, and international sports events. Licensed Kentucky horse racetracks would be able to obtain licensing fees and those racetracks could partner with up to three mobile wagering providers. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would provide regulation and oversight and a tiered tax rate of 14.25% for online wagers and 9.75% for in-person sports wagers at tracks would be established.

GLI strongly supports HB 551. Eight of Kentucky’s neighboring states have already enacted similar legislation and Kentuckians are placing about $1 billion in illegal sports wagers annually through online sources. Taking this step to legalize sports wagering ensures that the revenue stays in Kentucky and can be used to pay down the state’s pension liabilities after covering administrative costs.

While last year’s sports betting bill easily passed the House, it stalled in the Senate. The threshold is higher in this short, non-budget session, requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. However, the sponsors believe that changes in the makeup of the Senate are in their favor and expect the bill to pass.