Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Clears First Hurdle

Jan 15, 2020

A bill permitting sports betting in Kentucky easily sailed through committee Wednesday in a unanimous vote could bode well for the measure's future.

Credit AP Photo/Wayne Parry

With the legislature on the hunt for new revenue, sports betting could prove the first bipartisan success story of the 2020 General Assembly. That's if enough momentum can be generated in the GOP-led House and Senate. Rep. Adam Koenig, the sponsor, warns not to read too much into the smooth vote in committee.

"In all honesty, we stacked the committee pretty well with people who support gaming and alcohol legislation," the Erlanger Republican said. "We're not going to get a unanimous vote in the House I can assure you that, but I'm very optimistic about the House. It's just a matter of we're trying to get as many votes as we can."

Gov. Andy Beshear added his name to the list of supporters in his State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday. House and Senate leaders David Osborne and Robert Stivers were asked about the bill's chances in their respective chambers.

"I know it has considerable support in the House and I would anticipate it moving," Osborne said.

Stivers was more ambivalent, saying, "Will it pass? It may. Is it going to be that consequential... in my opinion."

Not "consequential" — because even supporters acknowledge the bill would bring in a relatively modest amount compared to the state's massive pension obligations. Rep. Koenig puts a conservative estimate is just over $22 million a year.

Under the current bill, betting on in-state sports teams, including the University of Kentucky, would be allowed at horseracing tracks and the Kentucky Speedway.