The legislative initiative to legalize sports betting in Kentucky is taking new shapes and forms, as the state governor teamed up with a Republican lawmaker on Thursday to call for passage of the sports wagering measure, HB137.
Gathering Momentum to Push Through
What better occasion to portray the need for legal sports betting to the public than the recent Super Bowl LIV Final game, where people of Kentucky willing to bet should have gone to neighbouring states to place their wagers legally, and the bill sponsors, together with representatives of business and education organizations, as well as from the pension advocacy, led by GOP Rep. Adam Koenig and joined by State Senator Andy Beshear raised their concerns that state money flow out of Kentucky, instead of remaining in-house and funding state budget programs.
The negative experience from the 2019 attempt to pass the legislation that would legalize sports betting at Kentucky horse race tracks and Kentucky Speedway, as well as from a mobile app, downloaded after a registration in person, is obviously still in the back of the mind of the bill sponsors and this time around they are looking to build public momentum to ensure the passage of HB137 through the Senate, mobilizing even the state governor himself.
Kentucky Should Keep Every Dollar In-House
Gov. Andy Beshear, who has always shown his support for the measure being behind the idea even before he became a state governor and it turned into a legislative bill, expressed his concerns that, with the money that is lost due to the wagering itself, money is lost from the trip of Kentucky people to other states, which would surely include buying food.
The bill is estimated to generate between $22 million and $25 million per year to help fund chronically underfunded public pension systems, with a small portion going towards gambling addictions preventative measure programs.
Facing Strong Opposition
Still, the idea to make sports betting legal is facing serious opposition from public organizations among which is the Family Foundation, which claim that sports wagering would hurt mostly families that cannot afford losses from bets, and they even believe that opposition to the bill is strong enough to block the measure, despite the number of organizations that publicly support it, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Fayette County Education Association and Kentucky Government Retirees, to name a few.
Unlike in 2019, HB137 would allow betting on Kentucky college sports teams, letting people wager on the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville sporting events, but having passed through the committee stages, the bill stalled in the House and its passage there is still questionable, even with Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer prediction the measure would pass through the Senate.