Published: February 23, 2023

Kentucky Republican files latest bill aimed at legalizing sports betting

A Republican in Kentucky's House of Representatives filed a bill Wednesday that would legalize sports betting in the state, something that's already been done in six of seven neighboring states.

House Bill 551, filed by Rep. Michael Meredith, R-19, "seeks to legalize and regulate gambling on live sporting events," the Kentucky House Republican Caucus said in a news release Thursday.

The bill would require any online gaming provider "associate with a Kentucky horseracing track" and would task the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission with regulating the gaming companies.

Initial licensing fees would be $500,000 for tracks and $50,000 for gaming providers with annual renewals of $50,000 and $10,000, respectively.

"Clearly the cost of doing business here must cover the cost of administering this program," Meredith said in a news release Thursday. "However, we felt strongly that this was an opportunity to use revenue to do some good."

Currently, Kentuckians have to travel across state lines to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia if they want to place s bet on a sporting event. Only Missouri has yet to legalize sports betting among states that neighbor Kentucky.

HB 551 would set the minimum sports betting age at 18 to coincide with the legal age for other forms of legalize gambling, including horse racing.

The bill would earmark a portion of the revenue to help offset the liability of Kentucky's public pension fund.

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