Analysts Say Sports Betting Will Be Legal in Kentucky by 2021
Two legislators in Kentucky have pre-filed sports gambling bills and analysts say that legalizing the activity would increase revenue for both Churchill Downs casino and the state. A bipartisan, bicameral task force has been assigned to look into the issues of additional tax revenue and oversight.
Analysts Say Sports Betting Will be Running by 2021
Chris Grove, a researcher with Eilers & Krejcik, a consultant group, predicts that operational sports betting could be up and running as soon as 2021. In an article posted by insider Louisville, Grove made the following statements about legalized sports betting in Kentucky:
“The important thing to remember is that much of this activity is already occurring, just in an unregulated fashion. Overall, there’s little debate on the point that sports betting will overwhelmingly generate new revenue as opposed to cannibalizing existing regulated gambling revenue. That means a net win for states from a tax and economic perspective, as opposed to shifting of consumer activity from one bucket to another.”
Another analyst, David Katz of Jefferies, said that legalizing sports gambling is a huge opportunity for businesses like Churchill Downs, who already have the experience and a gambling infrastructure. He feels that besides pulling bettors who right now are using illegal methods to place their bets out into legal arenas, legal sports betting could also draw in those people who have abstained due to its prohibition. Furthermore, once those people see what it’s like to place legal bets, they are more likely to try other types of gambling.
Opposition of Sports Betting in KY
Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), and Michael Stone, the executive director of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling (KYCPG), say that the access to legal sports betting could increase the number of gambling addicts. Both councils feel that states should help to control the negative impact by increasing counselling and other support services.
Keith Whyte said,
“Some of those new people may well get in over their head, … unless states take aggressive action to prevent and treat gambling problems.”
The NCPG wants legislators to carry out surveys to determine the prevalence of gambling addiction before legalizing same, and to set aside one percent of sports betting revenue to go to programs that minimize addiction.
Michael Stone of KYCPG said that although most state residents can gamble without any issues, around 9,000 are addicted to gambling and this costs the state around $81 million every year. He says that the state desperately needs more services to help people deal with their addictions, since the state only has nine certified gambling counselors at present.
The KYCPG also says there are studies that link gambling to increased risks for domestic abuse, suicide, and substance abuse, so the effects aren’t just about money. When speaking of trying to determine how much impact legalizing sports betting would be, given that many people already place bets illegally, it’s difficult. He said he doesn’t know what the impact will be, and he doesn’t think anyone does.
Illegal Sports Gambling
The American Gaming Association has said that the size of the illegal sports betting market is around $150 billion, so it’s hard to determine how much of that will be sucked back into legal avenues.
Churchill Downs Remains Productively Quiet
A spokesperson for Churchill Downs said they are paying attention to the issue, but aren’t commenting on it right now. However, in late August, it announced sports betting at two Mississippi casinos. Companies like Churchill Downs are getting ready for legal sports betting, but spending as little as possible, seeking out partners, and waiting to take advantage of legislation.
Churchill Downs has the expertise, technological capabilities, and physical locations in different casinos across the country. It also has partnerships, and apps to track potential customers for when it does become legal.
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