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Kentucky may not be satisfied with its unofficial title as the horse racing capital of the world.
As the 2019 legislative session hits its stride, efforts to expand the state’s gambling industry have appeared from all corners of the statehouse. Bills concerning casino gambling, online poker, and sports betting are filed with the clerk, including a handful of competing proposals for the latter.
Some of these efforts originate with the nine-member panel formed last year to study KY sports betting, so let’s run through those bills first.
Sen. Julian Carroll is one of the nine, and S 23 is his attempt to legalize sports betting in the Commonwealth.
Carroll’s bill would allow the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (KLC), horse racing facilities, and “other locations” to offer in-person sports betting under the oversight of a new Kentucky Gaming Commission. The latter two groups would pay $250,000 for the licenses and pay taxes amounting to 25 percent of revenue.
H 12 is a competing effort in the lower chamber tied to the lottery alone. It modifies several provisions in the requisite law, allowing the KLC itself to promulgate the rules for KY sports betting. Under this bill, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and its tracks would be completely shut out of the emergent industry.
Lastly, H 171 moves to strike sports betting from the list of prohibited offerings for the KLC. It does so by proposing to erase just 12 words and a comma from the existing law. Passage would allow the lottery to offer wagering exclusively on professional sporting events, with amateur contests still disallowed under separate language.
But wait, there’s more. A fourth KY sports betting bill is filed that also includes provisions for both daily fantasy sports and online poker.
A fresh bill mentioning KY online poker appeared on the scanner on Tuesday.
H 175 is a sports betting measure at its core, but it carries the proposed expansion a couple of steps further to include fantasy contests and card games. Under its provisions, online poker sites could contract with the KLC to offer their products within the Commonwealth. Daily fantasy sports operators would also be allowed be granted DFS licenses at the cost of $5,000 apiece.
This bill does not include the lottery among the list of approved KY sports betting operators, but it does extend authorization to both horse tracks offering historical racing and “professional sports venues” within Kentucky. They’d each pay $1 million for the privilege and remit 10.25/14.25 percent of retail/mobile sports betting revenue, respectively.
Rep. Adam Koenig is among the bill’s 14 current sponsors.
Not all efforts to expand Kentucky’s gaming industry require the use of the internet. Rep. Dennis Keene on Tuesday also introduced a proposal to legalize full-scale, brick-and-mortar casino gambling.
H 190 would allow up to four commercial casinos in the Commonwealth, each of which could offer both slots and table games. The latter would be exclusive to the free-standing casinos, but the bill would also extend slot permits to licensed Kentucky horse racing venues.
Casino licenses would carry a $50 million price tag, while the limited licenses for tracks would run $25 million apiece.
This bill includes sports betting language, too. More accurately, it would remove the existing clause that prohibits the KLC from approving casino games and sports betting. Under this proposal, all casino gambling would be conducted under the lottery’s oversight.
The KY casino bill requires local referendums from voters in each county that wishes to host a casino.