Kentucky Exploring New Opportunities for Sports Betting

The State of Kentucky is looking for new opportunities to legalize sports betting, online poker and fantasy sports with a new bill proposed by Rep. Adam Koenig.

Kentucky Puts Poker, Fantasy Sports and Betting on Table

Kentucky is witnessing another attempt to legalize online sports betting in what is a mostly conservative state that doesn’t endorse brick-and-mortar wagering on sporting contests to begin with.

Yet, Republican Rep. Adam Koenig is going to give it another shot with House Bill 241 filed for the 2021 legislative session and looking to legalize online sports betting in full. Yet, Koenig is using the push for sports betting to introduce other verticals as well.

Baked in the language of HB 241 are sections that mention online poker and fantasy sports, activities that do take place offshore and are generally looked favorably upon by Kentuckians. Now, the legislative bodies and stakeholders have to come up with a way to make this work, assuming Koenig’s initiative gains any reasonable momentum.

So far, the bill is at the Kentucky’s House of Representatives Committee on Committees and enjoys endorsement by 17 representatives, including Koenig himself. Should the bill see the light of day, it should set up a framework for mobile wagering.

Sports fans will be able to bet on both collegiate and professional sports events and theoretically promote the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as a gaming regulator in the industry, on top of its existing duties regulating pari-mutuel wagering on horse races.

What Does House Bill 241 Offer?

Koenig’s offer seems fair to the state as it would put a solid licensing fee and good taxation rate in place. Stakeholders would have to pay $500,000 for an initial license cost and then back it up with $50,000 renewal fees annually.

This will all be overseen by the Commission. Adjusted gross revenue tax on bets on professional sporting events and collegiate sports would run at 9.75%. Operators would also contribute an additional 0.5% to help with the Thoroughbred and Standardbred development funds that would be established under the bill.

For state licenses willing to operate online, they would need to pay a 14.25% tax on adjusted gross revenue for all bets that have been collected via mobile platforms, which would most likely be the main entry point for most consumers.

The bill hopes to see regulated sports betting in the state as early as January 1, 2023. It also establishes language for the regulation for any operators looking for fantasy league permits. The registration fee will be $5,000 and the renewal fee will be 6% of the adjusted gross revenue.

Fantasy and Poker

Should the bill finds support, fantasy contests will begin shortly after regular sports betting on January 15, 2023. Online poker, an issue supported by Gov. Andy Beshear, who is facing an impeachment threat, is also part of the bill.

Licensing fee for poker would cost $250,000 and renewal fees will cost brands $10,000. Poker will be levied with a 6.75% tax of net poker revenue every month. However, there is no date when or how soon online poker can roll out, assuming the bill passes.

Koenig’s previous effort to legalize gambling in the state, or House Bill 137, reached the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee in March 2020, but failed to progress further. HB 137 was endorsed by Gov. Beshear at the time.

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