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Kentucky makes another play to legalize sports betting

A 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowed states to legalize sports wagering. This is the fourth time Kentucky has attempted to legalize it in the commonwealth.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky lawmakers introduced a bill that would legalize sports wagering in person and off-site in the commonwealth--if it's approved.

A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states to legalize sports wagering.

While many already have legalized it, there wasn't enough support in Kentucky's General Assembly to approve it in past years.

House Bill 606, which was filed Monday, is similar to the bill introduced last year that didn't make it through the legislature. People would be able to place wagers on-site at licensed tracks, online or via a smartphone. 

Wagers could be made on professional sporting events, college sporting events, international events such as the Olympics and World Cup Soccer and, after consulting with the league or association sanctioning a sporting event, proposition (prop) bets.

"We already have the costs of expanded gaming," Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, said. "Whether it be casinos, whether it be sports betting on our borders or whether it be the offshore accounts that you can access with an app on your phone or the bookies that exist in every corner of this state."

Koenig, the bill sponsor, said a study done three years ago estimated sports wagering could bring in more than $22 million of revenue if legalized in Kentucky. 

HB606 would set tax rates at 9.75% for wagers made in person and 14.25% for wagers made online. 

Koenig said the only major difference in this bill compared to the one introduced last year is Kentucky Speedway is no longer an authorized operator. 

"Sports betting is a natural extension of the horse racing culture in Kentucky."

Not everyone is in favor of legalizing sports wagering. 

The Kentucky Family Foundation, which opposed sports wagering bills in the past, issued the following statement to WHAS11. 

"We don't think a sports betting bill will even make it through the first round of the legislative playoffs, much less pass both chambers of the legislature," Kentucky Family Foundation Martin Cothran said. "There is just no sentiment for getting into another ugly and divisive fight on gambling just a year after historic horse racing slot machines only barely made it through."

Cothran was referencing the legalization of historical horse racing machines, which resemble slot machines. They allow people to bet on randomized horse race replays.

Koenig said he is still working to get the votes needed to pass this bill out of the House and said it could be heard in a House committee as early as next week. 

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