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Kentucky bill to legalize sports wagering clears House panel

Supporters of legalizing sports betting in Kentucky are mounting a late-session push.
Supporters of legalizing sports betting in Kentucky are mounting a late-session push.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 10:06 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Supporters of legalizing sports betting in Kentucky are mounting a late-session push.

House Bill 606 won bipartisan backing Wednesday as the measure cleared a House committee.

Similar measures died in prior years. But a leading supporter, Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, is sounding hopeful the outcome could be different this year. He says the measure would regulate an activity that already exists. He points to estimates that millions are wagered illegally on sports every year in Kentucky.

“I think we’re in position, hopefully, to have better luck going forward out of this committee,” Rep. Koenig said.

The bill drew opposition from The Family Foundation, which opposes expanded gambling. They argue an expansion of gambling in Kentucky would cause more harm to people who already struggle with addictions.

“Government-sponsored expansion of gambling by its nature is bad government and bad policy,” said David Walls, Family Foundation.

House Bill 606 was passed out of committee in tandem with three other bills focused on wagering and the future of betting.

House Bill 609 would establish the Kentucky Problem Gambling Assistance Fund, a $225 million fund that would help provide services for people who struggle with a gaming addiction.

House Bill 607 would fix up problems with pari-mutuel wagering in the state. It creates a flat tax rate on pari-mutuel wagering at 1.5%, requires breaks to paid to the penny instead of rounded down to the nearest 20 cents and it would establish a self-exclusion list so a person can self impose a ban on them being able to enter tracks and wager.

Finally, House Bill 608 would outlaw gaming that is not explicitly approved under Kentucky law. House Bill 608 did warrant the most discussion of the four. Opponents said it would hurt small businesses and drive certain gaming companies out of Kentucky.

All of the bills will now go forward to the full house for a vote.

Copyright 2022 WKYT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.