Kentucky passes sports betting bill on frantic final day
Bluegrass State set for legalization as legislation now moves to betting-friendly Governor
Kentucky is set to become the first state to legalize sports betting in 2023 following the passage of legislation by the Bluegrass State’s Senate on the final day of the 2023 legislative session.
House bill 551, proposed by state Representative Michael Meredith, passed on Thursday amid a busy day for the Senate by a vote of 25-12, with only 23 votes needed to pass.
According to state estimates, Kentucky could make as much as $23m annually from sports betting, with the legislation now passing to Governor Andy Beshear to be signed into law.
Beshear has made no secret of his desire to see sports betting in the state, which would become the 37th US jurisdiction to legalize online sports betting since PASPA was repealed in May 2018.
Kentuckians will soon be able to place their bets here, and for the first time, we are going to keep those dollars to support our roads and bridges, schools and communities. ^ AB 2/2
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) March 30, 2023
Kentucky is surrounded almost entirely on all sides by states which have legalized sports betting, and its legislators are keen to join this number to ensure the state retains revenue which might otherwise be lost to other states by bettors travelling across states to bet.
Only neighboring Missouri has not legalized sports betting, however, efforts are currently underway to legalize the vertical in the state, with multiple bills being filed in the Senate and House over recent months.
HB 551 would allow Kentucky’s nine licensed horse tracks to offer online and retail wagering, with each track able to engage with up to three online partners, resulting in as many as 27 operators.
Horseracing track operators would be required to pay an upfront fee of $500,000 for a license in addition to an annual renewal fee of $50,000, with license fees for online skins fixed at $50,000 and $10,000, respectively.
Adjusted gross revenue would be taxed at a 9.75% rate for retail operators, rising to 14.25% for online.
Throughout the legislative process, amendments to the legislation have been suggested at committee stage, with some being included in the final bill while others were dismissed.
An approved amendment to HB 551 would establish a problem gambling fund in Kentucky and allocate 2.5% of sports betting revenue to the program. A second approved amendment lifted the previous requirement of in-person registration for mobile betting accounts.
Two additional amendments – one that would have banned credit card deposits for online accounts and another that proposed raising the minimum betting age from 18 to 21 – failed to garner sufficient support.