If Kentucky Lawmakers Approve Online Gambling Bill Amendments, Online Poker May Be Out

Online Poker, Sports Betting Bill Fans Still Hopeful In Kentucky

This is a developing story and will be updated.

As legislators near adjournment of the Kentucky General Assembly, fans of online poker and online sports betting express hope that lawmakers will approve the bill legalizing both today.

It is truly do-or-die time in the Bluegrass State, as today – April 14 – is the final day of the legislative session.

If the Senate approves HB 606 without the 17 suggested amendments, the proposed legislation will head to Gov. Andy Beshear to be signed into law.

Around noon, when Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, asked senators to break for lunch in order to “power through” the rest of the day. Senators were still on the floor an hour later, honoring a departing colleague.

In the days leading up to the vote, Thayer and bill sponsor, Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, advocated for the measure.

On April 6, Koenig tweeted:

“It’s getting to crunch time and it important that you let your senator know your thoughts. Please use the link below to let your voice be heard! #makeKY34”

His hashtag references 33 states that had already legalized online sportsbooks. The District of Columbia also allows online sports betting. However, if Kentucky doesn’t approve the measure today, Kansas may instead be the one to become the 34th sports betting state.

UPDATE 04/14/2022

As of 8:40 p.m., the Senate hadn’t moved HB 606 out of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee. The body was readying to adjourn.

Thayer said at 8:30 p.m. of sports betting:

“We just don’t have the votes.”

Thayer tweeted at 7:37 p.m.:

“Well, I didn’t have this on my bingo card this year, but I do appreciate Joe being 100% truthful regarding #sportsbetting #kyga22”

Joe Sonka, who covers state government for the [Louisville] Courier Journal, had tweeted:

“I’m not in the business of defending Thayer, but I’m a little confused why people are blaming him for the increasingly-likely defeat of the sports betting bill. He supports it and lobbied for it, a majority of this caucus does not. If the caucus doesn’t support it, no vote.”

Even Beshear had criticized Thayer during a press conference, which Thayer retweeted.

Beshear said:

“My thought is if Damon Thayer wanted sports betting passed, he’d get it passed.”

At 6:25 p.m., Koenig defended Thayer on Twitter to critics saying Thayer hadn’t tried hard enough to legalize online sports betting.

HB 606 culmination of an active session

HB 606 is one of four online gambling bills the Kentucky General Assembly considered this year.

On April 8, a parimutuel wagering measure became law. It creates a uniform 1.5% tax on parimutuel wagering and rounds winnings up to the penny. The Senate passed HB 607 in a 33-to-1 vote on March 29.

While it’s possible HB 608 to regulate skill games may move out of the legislature to be signed by the governor, it’s not a sure thing. The Senate passed the measure 24 to 13 yesterday, but required a House committee to approve changes to the bill for it to progress today.

Meanwhile HB 609, which would’ve instituted Kentucky’s first responsible gambling (RG) program, stayed stalled in the Senate committee where it’s been since March 30.

As of the moment of publication, the Senate is just getting back underway following a recess. Online Poker Report is following the session and will keep you up to speed on all the relevant proceedings.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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