The latest bill for sports betting in Kentucky is on its way to the state House.
House Bill 551 moved through the Kentucky House Licensing & Occupations Committee Wednesday and goes on to the House.
HB 551 would bring online and retail sports betting to the state.
The bill, which has received bipartisan support from 12 House members, was filed in February on the final day to submit legislation for the 2023 session.
Sponsored by GOP State Rep. Michael Meredith, it was co-sponsored, in all, by six Republicans and six Democrats. Meredith represents District 19.
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How New Bill Differs From Previous Proposal
In January, House Bill 106, which called to legalize daily fantasy sports and online poker, was filed, essentially repeating a bill that failed last year. HB 106 was sponsored by only Democrats in a legislature dominated by Republicans. The GOP has 80 of the 100 state House seats and a 30-6 majority among current state Senate members, according to the Kentucky General Assembly website.
HB551 calls for Kentucky's nine horse tracks to partner with up to three operators each in Kentucky. The horse racing industry is critical in the state – America’s most prestigious horse race, the Kentucky Derby, is held each May at Churchill Downs in Louisville and the state is dotted with horse farms.
In September 2022, Churchill Downs and FanDuel reached an agreement for sports betting and horse racing content.
HB 551 allows for sports wagering licenses for tracks at $500,000 and online sports betting operators would have a licensing fee of $50,000. Online operators would be taxed at 14.25%. Retail sports betting would be permitted at the state’s racetracks and taxed at 9.75%.
Also, HB 551 concerns only sports betting, with no mention of online poker or daily fantasy sports. HB 106 included those two in addition to wagering on sports.
Kentucky residents above the age of 18 would be able to bet on college and professional sports. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would regulate sports betting and licenses.
Hunger For Sports Betting In Kentucky
Last year, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer pointed to data indicating that more than 500,000 Kentucky residents had tried to bet online around the time of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, but those people were blocked by geolocation technology. Kentuckians now have to drive to Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee – and, as of Jan. 1, Ohio – to place sports wagers apart from horse racing.
Previous attempts to bring legal, regulated sports betting to Kentucky have failed. In April 2022, a Kentucky sports betting bill, sponsored by Adam Koenig, was approved by the state House but stalled in the state Senate and didn’t come up for a vote during the final days of the legislative session.
Thayer, who supported the bill, told BetKentucky.com at the time: “It was frustrating, but I’ve been around long enough to know that it takes a couple of sessions for things like this, that are controversial, to eventually pass.”
This is now the fifth consecutive year Kentucky has filed a sports wagering bill. If it passes, BetKentucky will be your source for reviews and information on mobile Kentucky sports betting apps so customers can be informed before they sign up for an account.
At any rate, the new HB551 has made progress. We'll see what happens next.