Recently there were a couple of very different proposals in terms of legalizing, as well as regulating, sportsbooks in Kentucky, with one being in the House and one being in the Senate.
The two bills are Senate Bill 24 and House Bill 137, and both were pre-filed last year even though they are officially on the table this year. In 2019, the Bluegrass State pushed to pass legislation for sports wagering, but neither the House nor the Senate was able to legalize it.
However, there is more optimism with 2020 being a budget year, and it has been assumed that the revenue that will be generated from Kentucky sports betting revenue will be more attractive to policymakers in the state.
If sports betting were to be legalized in Kentucky, it is set to make between $20 to $48 million in taxing sports betting in the state.
Same But Different
In terms of Kentucky and the legalizing of sports betting, the issue is still one that is up in the air. One of the main issues is if the state should allow wagering on college games that involve teams from the state.
Kentucky is one of the states in the U.S. that does not have a major professional sports franchise. However, it is big in the college basketball scene with the likes of Louisville and Kentucky, and if Kentucky residents could not wager on those games, among others from Bluegrass State colleges, they may head across the border to wager on them in Indiana, where those bets are legal.
The bill SB 24 would not only allow for collegiate betting but betting on teams that are in Kentucky. On the other side of the coin, HB 137 would also allow collegiate wagering but wouldn’t allow Kentucky residents to bet on teams that are within the state.
A Kentucky Gaming Commission would be created if SB 24 passes, while the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would regulate sports betting if HB 137 passes.
The Senate bill would create a tax to the tune of 25 percent on net sports betting receipts. The bill for the House would only have a tax rate of 9.75 percent on adjusted gross revenue for bets made at land-based locations, while for online and mobile bets, the tax rate would be 14.25 percent.
In HB 137, people would have to set up their mobile/online betting accounts in person at a racetrack or another facility that is approved. Those provisions are not in SB 24 in terms of making bets on mobile devices or online.
Also, the House bill has language that would make online poker legal in Kentucky, while the Senate version does not have that. The Kentucky Lottery Corporation would regulate online poker in the state.
Still Work To Be Done
There are a lot of issues to be ironed out in the Kentucky legislative session, as there are many ways that the Bluegrass State could set up their online sports and gaming betting industry.
The thing is the bills for both the House and the Senate should not compete against one another. The legislation has many options on how to expand gambling in the state, especially when it comes to legal sports wagering.
The House and the Senate may pass differing laws for sports betting, and a conference committee would deal with the differences.
One aspect of Kentucky sports betting that the House and the Senate agree on is people would have to be 18 years of age to make legal wagers. If Kentucky legalizes sports betting, it is a safe assumption that the state would see a significant influx of bettors from Indiana and Tennessee, where the legal age of sports wagering is 21.
In Kentucky, the legislature is in session until the middle of April, and the House and Senate have a lot to debate about in terms of if the state should join the others in legalizing sports wagering.