It took a few tries, but Kentucky is now the 38th US State to legalize sports betting. This comes after Bluegrass State Senators approved HB 551 on a narrow 25-12 vote. Once the bill is signed by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D), Kentuckyians will be legally wagering on sporting events as soon as the 28th of July – just in time for football season.
Under the terms of the bill, wagers placed at race tracks will be taxed at 9.25 percent while those placed online will be taxed at 14.25 percent. That disparity between taxes on in-person and online wagers is an indication of the power held by horse racing interests in a state with an incredibly strong tradition in the sport.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer was ecstatic on the bill’s passing, a bill he didn’t think had the votes to pass, telling the Kentucky Courier-Journal, “We are a sports crazy state. And people want to be able to make a choice of their own free will to make a wager on a sports event — like almost all our surrounding states.”
Given Kentucky’s red-state bonafides, it’s pretty impressive that the bill was able to pass at all. David Walls David Walls, executive director of the Christian social conservative group The Family Foundation told the Lexington Herald-Leader, “Kentuckians surely did not elect pro-family majorities in the General Assembly to pass Governor Beshear’s legislative agenda to expand predatory gambling and legalize “medical” marijuana. Kentuckians deserve better from their elected leaders.”
Supporters of the bill predict that the state will earn something close to $23 million a year. They point to neighboring Tennessee, where regulated sports betting is already putting $68 million a year into public coffers.