Published: April 12, 2022

Sports betting supporters hoping this is the year it passes in Kentucky

Opponents to sports betting in Kentucky cite religious reasons and believe it's not that big of a money issue. (WCHS)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WCHS) — The issue of sports betting in Kentucky has always gotten mixed opinions, but supporters believe this may be the year it finally passes. Wednesday begins the final two days of the General Assembly.

On a regular basis Kentuckians travel to border states to gamble, and officials would like to keep that money in the Commonwealth.

"We don't know exactly how much we are loosing. That would be up to the operators to tell us", said Representative Adam Koenig, (R) Erlanger.

Representative Koenig is sponsor of House Bill 606 that would legalize sports betting in Kentucky.

"This is my 4th year filing the bill", said Representative Koenig..

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce supports the bill, saying it would keep money in Kentucky that's going to bordering states.

"The Geo-Comply Tracking service blocked approximately 532,000 attempts from Kentuckians to place sports wagers on a platform that is legal in surrounding states", said John Cox, Director of Public Affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Two years ago a fiscal analysis of the legislation was done by Commonwealth Economics and determined that sports betting would generate $22.5-million dollars in new revenue every year without raising taxes on Kentucky families.

"Given how many years that estimate was that 22 1/2 would be the floor of what we could expect. I think it could be more. It is taxed on net winnings from the house", said Representative Koenig

According to a study by Kentucky Sports Betting Now, 65% of Kentuckians favor sports betting. That number jumps to 74% when survey participants hear the revenue from sports betting has been earmarked for state pensions.

"I'm kind of ambivalent towards it. As for entertainment value, it would be what I would call either an appetizer or a dessert in a menu of options you would have here for entertainment, so I don't think it's that big of a fiscal issue", said Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, (R) Manchester.

"There are people who have significantly held personal religious beliefs that prevent them from being for expanded gambling. I respect that. I also know people who won't do it because their preacher tells them not to", said Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, (R) Georgetown.

Koenig says religion is the biggest hurdle to getting the bill passed. 33 states have sports betting. If the measure is defeated this year, Koenig says expect a sports betting bill next year during the General Assembly.

For compulsive gamblers, Senator Thayer says Republicans are offering to put $200-million into the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling to help deal with it.

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