Attempts to legalize sports betting in Kentucky have been going on since 2017, a year before the Supreme Court ruled all states can legalize betting on sports. Early this year, the sports betting momentum was alive and strong in the state as State Rep. Adam Koenig launched House Bill 175, which would legalize a lucrative betting market in the state.
Bill Fails to Get House Votes
However, hopes for sports betting to finally be up and running in the state in 2019 have been quashed after the House failed to cast their vote on the bill. With the last day of session looming, it’s now highly unlikely that Koenig’s legislation would get past the House and move all the way to the State.
House Bill 175 would need the votes of at least 60 of the 100 House members to achieve a supermajority, but given the short time period as the last day of session is on March 28, the proposed legislation can be considered dead for now. Acknowledging this, Koenig said he and his co-sponsors will regroup and come out with a better plan for next year.
In 2020, Koenig would need to secure just 51 votes to move his bill, as it is an even-numbered year. The Republican sponsor said the $20-$48 million in tax revenue the state will get to enjoy once the bill is pushed through the Senate, will probably look more important for residents in the coming year. Koenig’s proposal already had 20 co-sponsors.
Opposition Still Strong
During a sports betting debate hosted by Kentucky Tonight on February 25, strong opposition from anti-gambling religious groups was on display. Koenig said these groups still have a lot of influence in the political affairs of the state which may have contributed to the current status of the bill.
Koenig, along with another supporter of the bill, came face to face with two staunch sports betting critics representing the anti-gambling religious groups in Kentucky. The showdown lasted for nearly an hour and clearly showed that they will not give up without a fight.
Support Not Enough
In a recent interview with Spectrum News, US Senator Rand Paul gave his take on the sports betting issues currently facing his state.  The Republican from Kentucky has expressed his support for sports betting, saying it is no different to betting on horses, which the state currently allows. Paul said he supports giving freedom to the people of Kentucky to choose what they want to do. But this expression of support came way too late for now.
Nevertheless, the campaign for sports wagering has seen increased backing this year, with some prominent organizations coming out in support of the legislation, including a firefighters group and the Kentucky Coal Association. The main attraction is the millions in tax revenue that the state will bring in if the activity is legalized.
Kentucky’s neighboring states are either launching sports betting or stepping up their efforts to legalize it. Tennessee, which does not have any casinos is making some progress on its sports betting bill. Sports wagering is in full swing in West Virginia, which also recently passed an online casino bill. Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana are all welcoming the prospect of allowing sportsbooks.
A Work In Progress
The state of Kentucky is losing out on potential gambling revenue, given the fact that Kentuckians are visiting states which have a legalized gambling industry and are spending a combined total of over $1 billion each year at these casinos. The issue was explained in a letter to the State Legislature in late 2018 by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.
The Democrat said there is a need to legalize sports betting and casinos in Kentucky which will help keep this huge amount of gambling dollars in the state and help boost state pension funding. While Beshear’s support was not enough to move the sports betting bill this year, it could have a meaningful impact in the future, especially if he gets elected as Kentucky Governor, a post currently being held by Republican Matt Bevin.
Aside from sports betting, Koenig’s bill sought to legalize online poker and fantasy sports. Mobile wagering would also be allowed, but gamblers need to register in-person instead of signing up for an account remotely. Koenig will benefit from the experienced gained in 2019 and hopefully that enables him to introduce a better bill in 2020 that will move forward quickly!

This site is registered on as a development site.