Kentucky’s House of Representatives voted Monday for the passage of a bill to legalize sports wagering in the state with the final decision to be made by the Senate to get the long-time decisive gambling issue resolved in the state, as Associated Press reports.
Creating a regulated marketplace:
Previous attempts to have sports betting legalized in Kentucky were supported by the House but did not pass the Senate, such as Bill 606 proposed last year or Bill 594 which passed the House last week to be immediately resumed for consideration.
The proponents of the latest regulation are nevertheless optimistic and the Bill 551’s lead sponsor Republican Rep. Michael Meredith said: “This does create a regulated marketplace for sports wagering, taking sports wagering in Kentucky out of the shadows, out of the darkness and moving it into the light.”
Bill 551 passed the House with a 63-34 majority vote but it still needs approval by the Senate. In terms of procedural requirements, the measure will need a three-fifths vote in three Senate chambers to legalize sports wagering in Kentucky.
Despite being home to the prominent horseracing event, Kentucky still hasn’t taken advantage of legal sports wagering operations unlike the surrounding five other states in West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, and Tennessee that have done so. The Bluegrass State is therefore thought to be losing millions of dollars through bets placed with illegal operators to deprive the state of the respective tax revenue.
Opponents consider gambling harmful to society:
Conservative organizations, such as Family Foundation, are opposed to gambling bills and consider gambling harmful to society. After the latest House vote, this foundation said the sports wagering bill represents, “a massive expansion of predatory gambling at a time when Kentuckians can least afford it.”
Republican Rep. Chris Fugate said: “This is not legislation that Kentucky can be proud of. This is not good for Kentucky. It’s not good for families. It’s not good for people. And I really hope and pray we get to see some legislation that will bring jobs into east Kentucky and to the rural parts of this state.”
Proponents looking for a huge tax revenue:
On the other hand, supporters said that Kentucky should finally accept a form of wagering already available in most of Kentucky’s neighboring states. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, who is the main supporter of the bill, said Monday that it’s “going to be tough” to pass all the regulatory thresholds in the Senate. Thayer said: ”But first things first, I want to try to get it out of committee.”
According to Meredith, if Bill 551 gets the Senate’s approval, legalized sports wagering in Kentucky will likely generate around $23 million a year in tax revenue. Kentucky’s horse racing tracks would be licensed as sports betting facilities with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulating sports wagering operations. Finally, a percentage of the generated revenue would be used to fund problem gambling organizations and the state public pension system.