Kentucky Committee Unanimously Passes Sports Betting Bill
House Bill 137 passed
The Kentucky House Licensing, Occupation, and Administrative Regulations Committee voted on House Bill 137 today. This bill, which is supported by Governor Andy Beshear, would legalize sports betting in the Bluegrass State. It also covers online poker and fantasy sports legalization.
The sports betting bill received overwhelming support. It passed with favorable expression after testimony from the bill’s sponsor, Representative Adam Koenig. It now moves on to the full House floor for a vote.
During the committee hearing, details were provided regarding sports betting in other states as an indication as to what can be expected in Kentucky.
The sports betting hold, handle, and hold percentage were reviewed in Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Details of each state were provided so that members of the committee could see how much is wagered in other states, as well as how much revenue is generated by the industry. Comparisons where then made as to how much Kentucky would generate based on licensing fees and tax percentages.
With HB 137, the sports betting industry in Kentucky would have a licensing fee set at $500,000 per license holder. An anual license renewal would cost operators $50,000. In-person sports wagers would be taxed at 10.25%, while online bets would have a higher tax percentage of 14.25%.
Sports wagers placed at thoroughbred tracks will have a 0.5% tax, with these funds going to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund. Standardbred track sports wagers will have a 0.5% tax as well. The funds from this sector will go to the Standardbred Development Fund.
Players taking part in online sports betting will be required to open an account at track locations.
Opposition parties represented
Those opposed to legalized sports betting were also in attendance during the hearing. Two parties were represented, the Family Foundation and the Kentucky League on Alcohol and Gambling Problems. Both groups feel that the legalization of sports betting would be harmful to the state.
Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation stated that there are many reasons for societal concerns from sports betting. Cothran stated that sports betting targets the poor and young people.
In his testimony, the Family Foundation representative called HB 137 an anti-constitutionalist bill. Cothran stated that the bill defies the constitution as it is an expansion of gambling and requires a constitutional amendment to become law. Lawmakers disagree.
Gene Cole, a representative for the Kentucky League, stated that gambling is addictive, causes an increase in bankruptcy and suicide, and is also a contributing factor in many divorces. He also stated that the industry is damaging to local economies and stimulates illegal gambling.
Governor supports bill
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is supportive of the gambling industry.
During his ‘State of the State’ speech this week, he stated specifically that he supports the sports betting bill. As reported on VSO News, Beshear favors gambling expansion to provide additional revenues for the state pensions program.