Sports wagering could bring needed revenue and jobs to Kentucky, Koenig says

Rep. Adam Koenig

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

After a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in May opening the door for states to allow bets on sporting events, House Licensing and Occupations Committee Chair Adam Koenig says Kentucky needs to take advantage of the opportunity and bring in revenue currently being lost.

Rep. Koenig said it is currently estimated that $150 billion a year is wagered illegally on sports and he hopes Kentucky will pass legislation that will allow the state to be able to capture some of that revenue.

As for what it would mean for Kentucky if a sports wagering bill was passed, Koenig said it would essentially mean you could place bets on sporting events including basketball games, the U.S. Open, your favorite football team, and any other event as you could currently do in Las Vegas.

Each state can craft their own enabling legislation to lay out details on how the wagering would take place including aspects such as where someone would place a wager. Koenig said he is aware Kentucky’s horse racing industry is interested in being involved and gave examples of states like Delaware, where they will be able to wager at the state’s one race track, and Mississippi which has stated they may use their casinos as a place where an individual could place a wager. He also stated it is a possibility to allow wagering online.

In terms of when Kentucky might see a bill including the details, Rep. Koenig said he is interested in filing a bill and he knows of other legislators who are also looking into crafting legislation which could potentially be discussed in the interim.

“I am interested in a more comprehensive gambling bill that will include that as well as other forms of expanded gambling. But I think there will be pre-filed bills, I think there will probably be some hearings in the Licensing and Occupations Committee I chair that will talk about this and possibly other forms of expanded gambling. Because we are past time,” Koenig said.

While he said he is not ready to estimate how much it would bring into Kentucky, Koenig stated it is already being done in many areas of the state with horse racing and other avenues and this could create needed revenue and jobs.

“Every dollar we can get is money we need for pensions, education, to reinvest in some of the things we have been cutting over the years like economic development. So, I’m all for it,” Koenig said.


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