Kentucky Senate committee passes sports betting bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) – The bill to allow Kentuckians to bet on college and pro sports has cleared a Senate committee.

The vote was 9 to 1 for House Bill 551 Wednesday morning in the Senate Occupations and Licensing Committee. Chairman John Schickel was the only one to vote against it. It’s the first time the Senate has taken up the issue of sports betting.

The bill would allow people to bet on events using a computer, phone or mobile device or by going to a horse track-owned facility in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s nine horse racing tracks have the opportunity to be licensed. Taxes paid on wagers would generate nearly $23 million for the state.

Supporters say many Kentuckians are already betting on sports in other states.

“I hope we are one step closer to giving the people of Kentucky the choice to legally bet on sports,” said Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown.

Opponents say the ease of this and issues with gambling addiction make this troublesome.

“You know our hope is the Senate would realize this would be the largest expansion of gambling in the history of Kentucky, will turn potentially every iPhone and every internet-connected device into a casino,” said David Walls, The Family Foundation.

Sen. Thayer, the Majority Floor Leader, told us the earliest it would be called, if the caucus wants it, would be after the veto break either on March 29 or March 30.

If sports betting passes after the veto break, it would only become law if Governor Andy Beshear signs it. However, he has said in the past he supports the sports gaming issue.

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