The arrival of legal sports betting in the US state of Kentucky moved a step closer this week following developments in the state legislature.
A bill proposing the full legalisation of sports betting in the state has come through its scrutiny by the state’s House committee, which gave it unanimous approval. The House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee approved the bill by a total of 18-0 and it will now head back to the House for a vote. And the prospects look good for pro-sports betting campaigners given that state Governor Andy Beshear is on record as supporting the bill. The Governor even went so far as to mention it in his Tuesday State of the Commonwealth address, ahead of the vote.
Sports betting is legal in ten states, but there are many more states contemplating legalisation. Neighbouring states Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana are already at a more advanced stage of the legislative process, while West Virginia, which also shares a border with Kentucky, has a growing regulated sports betting market.
This is not the first attempt within the state to legalise sports betting, but this bill goes further than previous efforts, as it legalises bets on college sport, which was previously seen as unacceptable and which is still illegal in many of the states that have introduced sports betting.
But supporters of the bill, including its main sponsor, Adam Koenig, have pointed to the fact that sports betting could generate as much as $22.5 million per year to the state coffers, which could make a significant contribution towards closing the revenue difficulties that the state is experiencing. Koenig also highlighted the fact that residents in Kentucky are already betting on sport:
“Obviously a lot of folks see the revenue potential and see the opportunity to allow individuals to do something legally that they are currently doing illegally.”