Published: March 18, 2022

Kentucky's sports betting bill clears first hurdle in Frankfort

As March Madness gets underway, a bill to legalize sports betting in Kentucky clears its first hurdle in Frankfort.

House Bill 606 unanimously passed out of committee Wednesday morning. It's the third year a sports wagering bill has come out of committee and supporters are hoping this is the year they're going to go all the way.

Leading supporter, Rep. Adam Koenig, is sounding hopeful the outcome could be different this year.

"The problem's never been in this committee, it's on the floor. But I think we've got the support to go forward on the floor," he said.

Sports wagering would include betting on fantasy sports and online poker. It is expected to generate $22.5 million per year in taxes, which would go to shore up Kentucky's pension system.

But as we saw from the opposition, they're drawing up their own full-court press.

"People say, when it comes to this issue, how come we weren't the first to do it? Well, why can't Kentucky take a different tune and say we're going to be the first to stand up and say no," Gene Cole, with the Kentucky Ethics League, said.

"It is an industry not designed to create wealth but to simply transfer wealth, primarily from the poor to the wealthy," David Walls, executive director of The Family Foundation, said.

But Koenig says people are already betting on sports, either illegally or by traveling to other states.

The road to the final passage of the bill has other obstacles.

While Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer supports sports betting, Senate President Robert Stivers has been tepid on the issue.

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