Kentucky sports betting will have to wait at least another year
Kentucky sports betting will have to wait until at least 2023 before it becomes a reality.
The final day of Kentucky’s legislative session came and went without a vote on a much discussed, and much publicized, sports betting bill. Rep. Adam Koenig’s (R-Erlanger) bill, HB 606, remained in the Senate Committee on Economic Development for the final day of the state’s session, never receiving a hearing or a vote on the Senate floor.
The bill would have legalized retail sports betting at licensed Kentucky horse tracks, such as Churchill Downs, and the Kentucky Speedway, as well as online sports betting throughout the state.
2023 sports betting faces an uphill battle
Kentucky Republican Senators typically do not vote on a bill if there is not a consensus among them. The sports betting bill had Democratic support, but reports throughout the day claimed that the bill was likely to come up four votes short on the Republican side of the aisle.
If a vote had actually taken place, it may have been able to cross the necessary 20-vote threshold to be approved.
Koenig’s sports betting bill was approved by the Kentucky House of Representatives by a vote of 58-30 in early March. He spent the last several weeks trying to drum up support for sports betting in the Senate, but ultimately came up short.
The Representative can try again in the 2023 legislative session, but next year may prove to be even more difficult to get something approved. Kentucky odd-year sessions are limited to just 30 days and require a three-fifths majority for bills to be passed.
If not approved in next year’s session, Kentucky may not see sports betting legalized until 2024 and launched until 2025 at the earliest.
Frustration from sports betting proponents
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer (R-17) gave the bill two readings on the Senate floor several weeks ago to offer Koenig more time to garner support for the legislation. Thayer, a proponent of sports betting, showed his frustration early in the day when discussing the issue with reporters.
“I’ll be honest, I’m tired of being the spokesperson for the people who aren’t for sports betting. Ask them. I’m for sports betting. I think it’s a natural extension of our history and tradition in betting on horses in Kentucky, but I’m no longer going to give the reason. Find some of the people who are against sports betting and ask them,” he said.
The legislation also faced an uphill battle after Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-17) submitted a whopping 17 amendments to the bill. While several simply called for language in the document to be cleaned up, one proposed raising the sports betting licensing fee and renewal fees to $1 million each. Originally, the bill set the licensing fee at $500,000 and the renewal fee at just $50,000.
Public support for sports betting?
Public support for Kentucky sports betting seemed to be high, even if it did not receive 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.