When it comes to sports gambling, Kentucky State Representative Jason Nemes said it's time Kentucky gets in on the action.
"Kentucky, we already have sports betting. You can bet on sports where they have horses, but you cannot bet on sports that have balls, and that just doesn't make any sense," he said.
Nemes, R.-Middletown, has been part of a push in the state legislature to legalize sports gambling. A bipartisan bill that would allow sports betting in Kentucky was filed last year by State Rep. Adam Koenig, R.-Erlanger, but it was never called for a vote in the House. But Nemes said one doesn't have to look far to see the benefits of legalized sports wagering.
"Look north, look east, look south, look west," he said. "I mean a lot of states have it now and Kentucky doesn't. We're behind. We need to catch up."
The Indiana Gaming Commission reported the state took in around $91.7 million dollars in wagers in the month of October, which brought in around $1.1 million in tax revenue. Those numbers are up 160 percent from September, which was the first month sports betting was allowed in Indiana, with the state pulling in around $35.2 million in wagers and $813,103 of tax revenue.
"It will bring some money to Kentucky," Nemes said. "It won't solve all of our problems, but it will help us out."
According to Nemes, the tax revenue could go towards shoring up the pension system and filling some other holes, but for him, it is more a matter of principle.
"Even if it doesn't bring a dollar to Kentucky, government shouldn't be stopping people from gambling on the Yankees versus the Red Sox," he said. "Do we really want to put people in jail if they awnt to put money on the Red Sox? It just doesn't make sense."
Governor Matt Bevin has opposed expanding gambling, but his successor, Governor-elect Andy Beshear, has said he is supportive of all gambling in Kentucky.
"It's time for casino gaming," Beshear said at a gubernatorial debate in October. "It's time to treat fantasy sports for what they are. It's time for sports betting."
Nemes said while it does help having someone supportive of expanded gambling in the governor's office, he is confident there are enough votes in the House and the Senate to pass the sports betting bill if it is brought up for a vote. According to Nemes, because the upcoming legislative session is a budget session, the bill would only need 50 votes to pass the House, and he believes he has enough supporters to pass that mark. He said there is also support in the Senate, with Senator Damon Thayer giving strong support for the legislation.
Rep. Koenig has said he is planning on filing the bill in the upcoming session.
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