Kentucky’s Lawmakers Face Opposition in Sports Betting Talks

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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and lawmakers seem determined to push for a legalized sports betting industry in order to back up the public purse. However, certain conservative parties have remonstrated.

Lawmakers Readying Up to Push Sports Betting Bill

Kentucky’s push towards the legalization of sports betting is moving at a good pace with HB 137 standing a decent chance to pass in the General Assembly and clear its way to the governor’s desk.

With some 20 co-sponsors from the full political spectrum in the state the bill already has the backing of House and Senate.

Arguing in favor of the legalization move, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer explained that Kentucky already has experience with sports betting, and specifically para-mutual wagering on horse racing.

Para-mutual wagers have long been a historical compromise for states that do not full endorse sports betting thanks to their skill-based nature. Sen. Thayer is not the only staunch supporter of sports betting.

In August, 2019, Sen. Julian Carroll submitted Bill Request 326, seeking to set Kentucky on a legalization course.

Not Everyone’s Happy with Kentucky’s Betting Push

While support for the issue hasn’t been particularly difficult to garner, The Family Foundation – a conservative outfit – has argued against Sen. Thayer’s proposal to push through with the full-scale legalization of sports betting. Kent Ostrander, head at The Family Foundation, had this to say:

“We’re just surprised that the Republicans are going to ignore the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Ostrander reminded lawmakers that to go ahead with an ambitious move such as the mass legalization on sports contest, the state would also need to change its constitution. Sen. Thayer has responded by calling Mr. Ostrander’s opposition and legal arguments “red herring.”

Proponents of the betting move, such as Florida-based gaming attorney Daniel Wallach, have said that the argument over the legality of sports betting had been settled 130 years ago.

KY Governor Betting on Gambling for Public Revenue

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has also expressed hopes that the legalization of gambling in KY could lead to new sources of revenue for the state. The governor has already endorsed the sports betting bill but most recently he also made a pitch for casino gambling as well.

The reason why, Gov. Beshear explained, was Kentucky’s need to tap into fresh funds and start offsetting its public deficit. He put numbers to his plan:

“Right now, we are watching more than $500 million in gaming revenue go across the border to states like Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.”

Despite the opposition from The Family Foundation, all legal pieces seem to be in place, allowing Kentucky and its lawmakers to be optimistic about legalizing at least sports betting in 2020.

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