Safe Bet? Sports Betting Bill Inches Forward in Frankfort

A bill allowing Kentuckians to bet on sports has cleared a legislative hurdle in the state Capitol.

The legislation, which has failed in recent sessions, cleared the House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee Wednesday morning with a push heading into the final weeks of the legislative session.

The bill, House Bill 606, would legalize sports wagering in the commonwealth. The bill’s sponsor, Chairman Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, also pushed forward multiple bills in committee to create a fund to fight gambling addiction, address pari-mutuel wagering statutes, and outlaws unregulated gambling machines commonly referred to as “gray” machines.

Koenig’s legislation would also regulate the taxation of all online gambling including fantasy sports and online poker. If passed, consumers would have the same access to online betting accounts in Kentucky as in neighboring states such as Indiana, Tennessee, and Illinois, according to a news release.

“At the end of the day, this bill allows adults to make adult decisions,” Koenig said. “With statistics showing that over half of our state’s population supports legalizing sports wagering, we need to ask ourselves if it truly is in the best interest of the people of Kentucky to prevent adults from legally placing a bet. These bets are being placed today and we’re not getting any of the benefit, but do experience the costs.”

The legislation now heads to the full House for a vote. State Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, has promised to push the legislation in the state Senate if the bill clears the state House.