Kentucky Legislature Still Split on Legal Sports Betting Issue

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated November 21, 2022
4 min read
  • KY Lawmakers Take Sides on Sports Betting Issue at Legislative Preview Conference

  • 2021 Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Passed by House, Ignored by Senate

  • Kentucky’s State Legislature Next Convenes on January 3, 2023

Kentucky Sports Betting

KY Lawmakers Take Sides on Sports Betting Issue at Legislative Preview Conference

President Abe Lincoln, whose old man was born and raised in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, famously said, “A house divided cannot stand,” and that grim adage seems to apply in modern-day bluegrass politics when it comes to launching legal sports betting market in that state.

Generally speaking, Kentucky House lawmakers are in favor of pursuing such a market there whereas those in the Senate appear to have little interest in following up on such matters, as evidenced at the recent KY Chamber of Commerce's annual Legislative Preview Conference.

The meeting took place in Lexington and included some of the state’s top lawmakers moderated by chamber CEO Ashli Watts, a chance for the state’s political insiders to discuss the issues they will focus on in the upcoming legislative months.

When it comes to launching a legal sports betting market there, Kentucky Speaker of the House Rep. David Osborne (R) seems to understand that his state is running behind all of its neighbors, saying:

“I think the more we see [legal sports betting] expand around us, the more a conversation it’s going to be. We are now the last state of all our surrounding states that hasn’t passed it.”

On the other side of the issue sits Kentucky Senate President Senator Robert Stivers who made it clear that sports betting was the furthest thing on his mind, telling the group:

“I’m ambivalent about [legal sports betting]. I’ve always said it’s not a big issue in the overall scheme of things. It’s not a hot political issue. If it was such a winning issue, I don't think Adam Koenig would have lost."

Legal sports betting might not be a “hot political issue” in Kentucky, but elsewhere it has certainly proven to be a lucrative one.

2021 Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Passed by House, Ignored by Senate

The over thirty U.S. states that have already legalized, regulated, and continue to tax their own sports betting markets are a part of what has become a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to evolve and grow in the less than five years it has existed.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA and gave states the right to create their own sports gambling markets, and there have been attempts to legalize it in Kentucky every year since, but those proposed bills have never made it to the Governor’s desk.

Last year the state representative that Stivers referred to – Adam Koenig – championed House Bill 606 meant to legalize in-person and online sports betting in Kentucky, but though that bill passed through the House it failed to get even a committee hearing in the Senate.

Rep. Koenig lost his last election, so Kentucky sports betting will need a new champion and they are running out of time to step up.

Kentucky’s State Legislature Next Convenes on January 3, 2023

Like most U.S. state legislatures, Kentucky’s reconvenes at the start of the year on January 2, 2023, a fresh chance for lawmakers to consider what is best for residents including whether they deserve a regulated (meaning safe) way to place their sports wagers.

Right now, Kentucky sports fans who gamble are using unregulated offshore sportsbooks and neighboring states to place their action and all that handle continues to flow out of state creating revenue that’s untaxed and free.

Horse racing interests there might not want to compete with NFL betting and the politicians they lobby are forced to agree, but that only continues to divide that Kentucky ‘house’ and it’s costing the state potential tax revenue, so maybe next year they’ll all start to listen to Honest Abe.  

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Mike Lukas

Sports Betting & Gambling Industry Analyst

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.
Nationality: American
Education: N/A
Favourite Sportsbook: bet365 Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: Caesars Palace Casino
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