Can sports betting make it across the finish line this year in Kentucky? It likely depends how lucky advocates are feeling in the Senate
A bill legalizing sports betting in Kentucky is on the move, but the big question remains: What are the bill's odds in the Senate?
Sports betting advocates are giving it another shot in the legislature, with Republican Rep. Michael Meredith spearheading the effort.
"I'm here to tell you about taking an industry that exists in darkness and in the shadows and legitimizing it, legalizing it, and regulating it to protect the consumers of Kentucky."Rep. Michael Meredith
That was how Meredith began his argument for the bill in committee Wednesday. He went on to point out that all but one surrounding state has already made the move toward legalization. The revenue it might bring in to Kentucky, he acknowledged, is relatively modest but still worth pursuing.
"This is not a huge amount of money for the state, let me be clear. It's roughly, by the fiscal note, about $23 million annually in revenue," Meredith said. "But that's $23 million that's either not being given to any government right now or being given to one of our border states."
And while the bill easily advanced out of committee, advocates have been in this spot before — with a House willing to take the first step, as it did last year, but a potential roadblock awaiting in the Senate.
As for generating the necessary enthusiasm on the other side of the Capitol, Meredith said he's optimistic the bill is "within a vote or two" of where it needs to be. Yet last year's sports betting bill fell short of even winning a hearing in a Senate committee.
One other hurdle: some opponents remain wary of legalizing sports betting on moral grounds, saying it would increase access to an addictive form of gambling.