Legalization of sports wagering clears first legislative hurdle

Legislation that would legalize wagering on sporting events, internet poker, and fantasy sports contests passed through the House Licensing and Occupations Committee with a committee substitution making small changes on Wednesday.

House Bill 175 comes after a decision by the United States Supreme Court in May of 2018 opening the door for states to allow bets on sporting events.

When the bill was discussed in committee last week, lawmakers heard testimony from bill sponsor Rep. Adam Koenig and John Farris of Commonwealth Economics consulting firm who told the committee his company estimates the state could bring in around $20 million for sports wagering only with $4.6 million estimated revenue from in person wagering and $15.6 million from online. He stated their estimates do not include any research on what legalizing online poker and fantasy sports contest could generate.

Under the bill, wagering would be taxed at a rate of 10.25% for in person betting and 14.25% online.

The revenue collected through the bill, Koenig said, would be spent on the cost of regulating wagering, addiction prevention services, and any additional funds going to the state’s woefully underfunded pension systems.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Chamber, Commerce Lexington, Greater Louisville Inc., and the Northern Kentucky Chamber sent a letter to all legislators expressing the support of the business community for House Bill 175 and encouraged all legislators to vote in favor of the legislation.

House Bill 175, sponsored by Chairman Adam Koenig, presents Kentucky with a unique opportunity to get ahead of our competitor states, grow jobs, and help pay down the Commonwealth’s crushing public pension debt,” the chambers wrote in the letter.

House Bill 175 now moves to the full House for a vote on the floor.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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