FRANKFORT, Ky. — After working with stakeholders, Representative Michael Meredith has filed HB 551, legislation that would legalize wagering on sporting events.
“Kentucky residents are placing these bets today with illegal, unregulated offshore gaming entities, bookies, or by driving across state lines. As a result, the Commonwealth is getting no benefit and shouldering all the costs,” Meredith said. “Statistics show that more than half of our state’s population supports legalizing sports wagering; the time has come to ask ourselves if it truly is in the best interest of the people of Kentucky to prevent adults from legally placing a bet.”
HB 551 seeks to legalize and regulate gambling on live sporting events. If passed, consumers would have similar access to online betting accounts as those in six of seven neighboring states, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The provisions of HB 551 would require that online gaming providers associate with a Kentucky horseracing track and provides the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) with regulatory responsibility over gaming companies. Sports wagering could be provided through a licensed facility or online through a website or mobile App.
All revenue raised through licenses would be allocated to the newly created sports wagering administrative fund. The fund would cover all administrative costs associated with licensing and regulating providers, with the remaining money earmarked to help offset the multi-billion-dollar liability within Kentucky’s public pensions.
Meredith’s proposal would set initial license fees at $500,000 for tracks and $50,000 for gaming providers, while annual renewals would be $50,000 for tracks and $10,000 for gaming providers.
“The cost of doing business here must cover the cost of administering this program. However, we felt strongly that this was an opportunity to use the revenue to do some good,” Meredith added.
If passed, the bill would allow wagering on professional and amateur sporting events, college sports, international sporting events like the Olympics or World Cup Soccer, electronic sports and competitive video game events. However, a sporting entity or governing body could request to restrict or limit wagering on events.
HB 551 would not legalize online poker or fantasy sports. In addition, the measure sets the minimum sports betting age at 18, consistent with the age limit used for other forms of legalized gaming, including betting on horse races and purchasing Kentucky lottery tickets.