Kentucky Sports Betting Approved, Takes Effect June 28

Kentucky passed a sports betting bill last week and it was signed into law by Governor Andy Beshear (l.) nearly 24 hours later. The legislation will take effect in late June, from which the state has six months to officially launch.

Kentucky Sports Betting Approved, Takes Effect June 28

Kentucky could have sports betting up and running by the NFL season after the activity became law last week. It only took Governor Andy Beshear 24 hours to sign HB 551 into law after it cleared the Senate.

It takes effect on June 28 and now sports betting has six months to launch in the Bluegrass State.

“For years I believed it was time for Kentucky to join so many other states and pass sports betting,” Beshear said during a press conference. “We talk about having a competitive business climate, but we did not have an important business that nearly every state surrounding us has. Our dollars were supporting Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio and other states.

“After years of urging action, sports betting will be legal in Kentucky. We made it happen. This industry will bring new jobs, tourism and growth.”

Getting the bill passed was never a sure bet. It breezed through the House but the Senate was always seen as the tougher sell. The sponsor of HB 551, Rep. Michael Meredith, remained hopeful that the legislation could pass by a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Meridith’s optimism proved to be prophetic. The final vote was 25-12, two votes more than was needed to get the majority.

“It was a great day,” Sen. Damon Thayer told WKRC of the vote. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and for me it was one of the most satisfying days I’ve had as a member of the Kentucky Senate.”

Now that sports betting is legal, Thayer wants to see it launch as soon as possible, even though the state has until the end of the year. Thayer would like to see it ready by September’s NFL season.

“I have spoken with Jonathan Rabinowitz, the chairman of the racing commission, and his hope is to move faster than that and potentially have brick-and-mortar sports betting available by football season in the fall,” Thayer said.

The state’s nine horse racing tracks will be the only place in-person wagering can take place. They can also have up to three online operators.

The state is taxing in-person betting revenue at 9.75 percent. Online sports betting revenue carries a tax of 14.25 percent.

Thayer said sports betting could bring in an estimated $23 million in annual tax revenue.

“We are a sports-crazy state,” Thayer said. “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.”