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Kentucky Sports Wagering Bill Amended To Allow Betting On In-State Teams

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A proposal to legalize sports wagering in Kentucky has advanced out of committee and to the House floor.

House Bill 137, which comes from state Rep. Adam Koenig, was amended Wednesday to allow wagering on in-state collegiate teams. The legislation previously prohibited those wagers.

Additionally, the Kentucky sports betting plan in the House now resembles what Iowa passed in 2019 with an in-person registration requirement that will expire in 2022. The bill previously did not call for that provision to sunset. Iowa bettors must sign up for their accounts at a retail location until 2021.

Both changes to HB 137 are favorable to the U.S. sports betting industry. The bill also calls for regulating online poker and DFS platforms, both of which were in the previous version.

The House bill would have a 9.75% tax rate on adjusted gross revenue for retail wagering, while online/mobile platforms would have a 14.25% rate.

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Koenig on Wednesday called on the public to support his plan, which is a tough sell in parts of Kentucky, especially among the Baptist community. The bill failed to gain traction in 2019.

This year has better odds

Koenig believes the legislation has far better chances in 2020 thanks to it being a budget year. The tens of millions of additional tax revenue dollars that could be generated under HB 137 are more attractive to policymakers.

The proposal last year was never brought up to a vote by the full House. The session ends in April.

Though former Gov. Matt Bevin was apparently warming to sports betting for Kentucky, he never fully supported the plan. Current Gov. Andy Beshear, who defeated Bevin in November, is all in on sports gambling, as well as poker and even Las Vegas-style casinos.

There’s separate legislation in Frankfort to allow full-fledged casino gambling, but that is considered dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled legislature. Beshear on Wednesday, in an address to lawmakers, said he supported Koenig’s bill, which cleared committee by a 19-0 vote.

Koenig’s proposal only requires a simple majority of votes to clear the House in even-numbered years, as opposed to a three-fifths super majority last year. The vote tally is expected to be close.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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