Kentucky lawmakers push again for legalized online sports betting

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Kentucky lawmakers have once again set their sights on the legalization of online sports betting during 2023. 

The bill, HB 106 was presented on the opening day of the state’s 2023 legislative session and seeks to permit online sports betting, daily fantasy gaming and poker across the state. 

The legislation would seek to legally define several common terms related to gambling such as adjusted gross revenue, entry fee, rake and wager plus plenty more. Other new sections include specifics relating to fantasy contests and online poker, plus amendments and broadening of existing legislation to include sports wagering and update existing laws to be fit for purpose.

Kentucky is currently one of the most limited states when it comes to what’s available for those who wish to gamble. The state does not hold any commercial casinos, tribal casinos, card rooms, igaming, retail sports betting (etc). It does, however, have instant racing terminals at racetracks and wagering at racetracks on the horse racing product is permitted. 

Where do people from Kentucky place online sports wagers?

Kentucky is bordered by seven states, in which 6 have legalized mobile sports betting. Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Illinois all offer bettors with the opportunity to place mobile sports bets, where Missouri is the only one that doesn’t.  

Republican Al Gentry told a local outlet “People are literally going across the border, parking, making their wagers on a telephone and those tax revenues are going out of this state to other states”. 

He added: “If we legalize sports betting and in much the same fashion as before, which would be administered by the horse racing commission, and would generate, we believe, in north of $20m a year for the state in tax revenues”. He concluded:

“Don’t make us hop in our cars and drive across the river to place a bet, it’s just absurd”

If the Kentucky Derby is a gauge for betting appetite in the state, then there’s not too many global exports as famous. The world renowned horse race took a record $179m in the pari-mutuel pool for the race in 2022, up 17% year-on-year and 8% greater than the previous record 2019 according to track owner Churchill Downs. 

The least-backed horse of the race was eventual winner Rich Strike, recording a historic 80/1 victory with just $501,135 of the pari-mutuel pool wagered on it. The horse was only included in the Kentucky Derby field the day before when a late scratch put the first-reserve into the fold. It then stormed past Epicenter and Zandon to spring the most unlikely of upsets, and become the largest upset in the Derby since 1913.