Kentucky Adds More To Its Gambling Expansion Bill

Kentucky has thrown in a bill that could potentially legalize Daily Fantasy Sports, online poker, and sports gambling.

Republican state Representative Adam Koenig introduced a bill to the Kentucky state Senate on February 5th, 2019 which would expand the state’s current gambling options from pari-mutuel horse betting and lotteries to include various forms of gambling like online poker gambling, DFS, and sports betting. The bill presented will act as a test to see if the state legislature is even interested in gambling expansion this year due to last year’s bill’s failure. However, filing Rep. Koenig believes this particular bill will succeed due to the massive bipartisan support behind it and the additional provisions added.

Koenig believes now is a perfect time to introduce this bill due to the Supreme Court’s ruling on PASPA which removed it from the US Federal books. Coupled with the fact that the domestic gaming industry in Kentucky has been on the decline with the waning popularity of horse racing despite being the home state of the Kentucky Derby – one of the United States’ biggest events. New gambling options may pump fresh life and blood into Kentucky.

Rep. Koenig had this to say about Kentucky’s potential future with sports gambling, “I’d like to see Kentucky be on the front end of this. It is an opportunity for us to provide something that frankly is done in the shadows all over Kentucky…”

Several famous racetracks in Kentucky like the Churchill Downs are waiting in anticipation for sports gambling as they understand the most about the potential revenue legal and regulated sports gambling can create. The parent company which operates Churchill Downs recently invested in casinos in Pennsylvania and Mississippi, two states with passed sports gambling legislation.

Under Koenig’s bill, racetracks and sports venues could obtain a license to offer sports gambling for an initial price of $1 million with a $50,000 renewal fee every year. All of Kentucky’s sports gambling operations would be managed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission due to their past and solid experience with wagering. Kentucky would be able to offer in-person, mobile, and online wagering under this bill, as well as, allow 18+ gambling on sports which benefits young adults from around the nation wanting to try new gambling forms.

Under this bill, Geotargeting software would be used to verify the location of users within a state and restrict anyone outside of KY from illegally accessing state-restricted gambling. Betting on professional sports like major league football, basketball, baseball, hockey, etc., NCAA sports, international events, and entertainment would be permitted with exception to sporting events occurring within Kentucky.

Kentucky may move on this bill quickly due to growing concerns over the state’s pension deficit by $33 billion. Koenig’s bill, HB 175, would split gambling revenue earned between funding the regulation program, providing addiction and treatment services, as well as, provide financial relief for the state’s pension fund. The KY House Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations will hear Koenig’s bill and decide whether it is worthwhile to pursue this option.