Kentucky sports betting is charging down the stretch and it’s going to be a photo finish.

Kentucky legislators are coming back into session on Wednesday and will close out their legislative session on Thursday evening. It will be seen if Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), the House sponsor of Kentucky’s sports betting bill, has drummed up the necessary votes and support to push HB 606 through the Senate and legalize sports betting in the state.

Koenig’s sports betting bill was approved by the Kentucky House of Representatives by a vote of 58-30 in early March, but the Senate vote has always been considered the more challenging of the two to pass. Prior to the legislative session going on break, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer (R-17) gave the bill two readings on the Senate floor to offer Koenig more time to garner support for the legislation.

Koenig acknowledged the need for more support today on his social media feeds and assured proponents of Kentucky sports betting he would work until the final deadline to procure the necessary votes to pass the legislation.

Longshot in the Senate

Last month, Thayer said in an interview with WLKY in Kentucky that the bill had an uphill challenge for Senate approval.

In the interview, Thayer noted that he is a proponent of sports betting, but there is “an awful lot of anti-betting sentiment” in the Senate and the chances for the bill’s passage is in doubt.

Thayer said he wasn’t even sure if the sports betting bill would receive a hearing in a Senate committee, let alone on the full Senate floor.

“I think it’s a natural extension of our long history and tradition of betting pari-mutuelly on horses, which is a form of sports betting in my opinion. But there’s still a lot of anti-gambling sentiment in this building,” Thayer said.

Public support for sports betting?

Public support for Kentucky sports betting seems to be high, even if its not receiving the same support in the Senate. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce recently released data curated from GeoComply that showed during the month of March there were more than 530,000 attempts from within the state to access or place a wager through sports betting platforms.

The geo-validation company noted that there are more than 41,000 unique sportsbook player accounts in Kentucky, which many customers use when crossing the border into Indiana, Tennessee, and Virginia, all of which have legalized online sports betting.

Legalized sports betting at Kentucky tracks

Sports betting will be legal at licensed Kentucky horse tracks, such as Churchill Downs, and the Kentucky Speedway if the bill is approved by the Senate and signed into law.

The bill sets the retail tax rate at 9.75% and online sports betting’s tax rate at 14.25%. His bill is very similar to a 2020 sports betting bill that he also introduced, but never received a vote at the House or Senate.

Koenig did not include an in-person registration requirement for online sports betting. In his previous bills, Koenig required online sports bettors to register an account at a licensed tracked or speedway before being able to download a sports betting app.

If approved, Koenig noted the bills project to upwards of $20 million in annual tax revenue for Kentucky.