Considered to be the world’s horse racing capital, the state of Kentucky may just be on the verge of expanding its gaming portfolio thanks to expansion efforts that have sprouted from all corners of the statehouse for the 2019 legislative session. As it stands, a number of online poker, casino gambling, and sports betting-related bills have already been filed with the clerk some of which originated from a nine-member panel that was formed a year ago. Despite the fair share of gaming disputes that the state has had, it might just be the right time to make a move forward.
The Push for Sports Betting
The main proponent of sports betting in the Bluegrass State is Senator Julian Carroll – the senator’s S 23 bill will allow the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (KLC), various horse racing facilities in the state as well as “other locations” to offer in-person sports betting under the oversight of a yet-to-formed Kentucky Gaming Commission. The bill would also require the horse racing facilities as well as other locations interested in offering sports betting to part with $250,000 in license fees after which their revenues will be subject to a 25 percent tax rate.
S 23 is, however, not the only bill that that is championing for the legalization of sports betting in the state. H 12, a competing bill in the lower chamber modifies a number of provisions in the requisite law and also seeks to shut the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and its tracks out of the sports betting industry. Bill H 171, on the other hand, seeks to have the lottery given the opportunity to offer betting services on professional sporting events while amateur contests remain illegal.
Hopefully, the sector will not be affected by the recent reversal of the opinion on the 1961 Wire Act by the United States Department of Justice.
While most of the gaming-related bills that are set to be pondered over during the 2019 legislative session are in one way or the other tied to the internet, there are also efforts seeking to have full-scale land-based casino gaming legalized in the state. The bill championing this is referred to as H 190 and it would allow the establishment of up to four commercial casinos in Kentucky. Each of these casinos will be allowed to offers table games and slot machines with table games being restricted to the free-standing casinos. Licensed horse racing venues may also be allowed to obtain slot machine permits. To obtain the licenses for these establishments, the operators would have to part with $50 million. Moreover, limited licenses for racing tracks would o for $25 million each.
As of now, there is no bill that is specific to online poker – the only thing that exists is a recently introduced bill that mentions online poker. H 175, the bill, is in and in itself a sports betting measure even though it includes a couple of other provisions that happen to endorse the inclusion of card games and fantasy contests. If it is passed, online poker sites will be allowed to offer their services in the Bluegrass State.