Legalized Sports Betting in Kentucky Looks Unlikely to Pass

By in Gambling Laws on
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Kentucky Sports Betting Courthouse

It seems as though that all of the proponents anxiously waiting for legalized sports betting to be approved in the state of Kentucky will now have a lot longer to wait.

The odds of any bill being approved this year now look extremely slim as House Bill 137 was sent back to the Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee for further discussion and debate.

To make matters worse, the bill had already sat in the House for over two months while it was waiting for a floor vote to take place.

Kentucky is Still in Session

Contrary to what many other states are doing, suspending or adjourning their session in order to practice social distancing and help stop the spread of COVID 19, the Kentucky General Assembly is still carrying on.

That could obviously change at any moment, but for now sessions are still taking place. As of now, the session is set to end on April 15th provided that they don’t shut down earlier due to the coronavirus.

Things look very grim for sports betting. As far as Kentucky State Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) is concerned, House Bill 137 is on life support. Although he’s not ready to declare it dead, Rep. Koenig believes it’s very unlikely that this bill will be passed.

Still Holding out Hope for Legalized Sports Betting

Many residents of the state are now left questioning if it’s still realistic to hold out hope that legalized sports betting will become a reality in Kentucky. Is this just a temporary set-back? Is there still a road to a bill that is successfully passed by all?

It was back on Jan. 15th that the committee headed by Koenig managed to pass the bill unanimously. At that point all 18 members were in agreement and feeling good about where the bill stood. They believed it would make it to the Senate.

The bill then hit snags as a handful of socially conservative Republicans voiced their objections and didn’t favor the bill. Add to that the fact that the co-sponsors are made up mainly of Democrats, who have only 38 of the 100 chamber seats, and it was clear what an uphill battle it would be.

What Does Bill 137 Look Like?

As for what’s included in House Bill 137, it would cover sports betting, online poker, and even fantasy sports. The bill would have the state regulating daily fantasy sports.

Also included would be the Kentucky Speedway, racing, and horse tracks. Each of these venues would be permitted to host retail sportsbooks on site. There is even a companion app that would be included in the bill. Anyone wishing to use it would first have to sign up for it while on the premises of those designated locations.

A big part of why the state is pushing to legalize sports betting is for the tax revenue it could generate. Estimates put it at about $22.5 million in the first year. That money could most certainly be used to fund a variety of state projects and programs.

Unfortunately for those still holding out hope, the history of trying to legalize sports betting in the state isn’t great. Koenig tried to introduce legislation last year as well, and didn’t even make it to a floor vote.

Considering it looks unlikely to pass this year, there are those that don’t feel it would do any better in 2021. It could be that legalized sports betting is dead in the water and doesn’t have a passage of success in the state.

Kentucky will certainly be a state to keep an eye on as they appear to be well behind nearby states who have fully embraced sports betting and were reaping the rewards prior to the coronavirus inspired shutdown.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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