UPDATED WITH VIDEO: At a press conference on Thursday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear joined Rep. Adam Koenig, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), pension groups, and legislators from both sides of the aisle to support a bill to make it legal for Kentuckians to place bets on sporting events.
Beshear said the time to pass this legislation is now as Kentucky struggles to find the revenue to address critical issues and noted that sports wagering would bring in millions of dollars to the Commonwealth.
The governor joked that any issue the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and KEA are on the same side of has to be right.
Rep. Koenig, the sponsor of House Bill 137, noted that most of Kentucky’s surrounding states have legalized sports wagering and said it’s time to allow Kentucky adults the opportunity to make their own decisions on this and bring these dollars into Kentucky.
Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts said the business community sees this issue as a “no brainer” for Kentucky to make the Commonwealth more competitive with surrounding states and bring in much-needed revenue. She Watts joked “I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve been doing sports wagering for years. It’s called the Kentucky Derby.”
Fayette County Education Association President Jessica Hiler, representing the KEA, said sports wagering presents a tremendous bipartisan opportunity to provide new revenue to ensure all Kentucky children and schools are successful and urged the legislature to take action.
Jim Carroll, head of the Kentucky Government Retirees, voiced the full support of the retirees in his group and stated that while pensions are complicated, it is clear to everyone that the benefits must be payed and employer contributions have increased substantially in recent years. Carroll added finding new revenue is imperative and passing sports wagering is a good solution.
House Bill 137 passed through a House committee unanimously and currently awaits a vote on the House floor. Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for updates on this issue.