Sports Betting Legalization Bill Moves To Kentucky House Floor

Kentucky’s House Bill 606 containing language to legalize sports betting has made its way to the House floor.  The bill will impose a tax of nearly 10% on gross revenue stemming from wagers placed at the state’s horse racing and harness racing tracks.  Furthermore, the bill would tax mobile wagers at slightly more than 14%.  A portion of the funds derived from sports gambling taxes would be redirected to the state’s public pension fund after costs pertaining to administration are accounted for.  

The language of the proposed bill also contains rules applicable to daily fantasy sports and web-based poker.  Though Kentucky’s bill is not guaranteed to pass, momentum is building for it or a watered-down version to become law in the near future.  This development is fantastic news for sports gambling investors.

House Bill 606 Details

House Bill 606 was originally proposed by Republican representative Adam Koenig.  The bill was passed by the state’s House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee.  The bill is now in the hands of the state’s House members.  

The bill’s progression through the Kentucky state legislature is garnering significant media attention as similar legislation proposed two years ago also made it to the House where it was voted down.  It is clear that Kentuckians are sharply divided on the issue of sports gambling though momentum for legalization is gradually building with each passing day.

Regulating Activity That Already Occurs

Those in favor of the bill described above insist it would merely regulate and tax an activity that has occurred for decades within the Bluegrass State.  Similar to other vices, gambling will take place regardless of whether it is formally legal.  If the bill is passed by the House in the days ahead, it is possible that Kentuckians will be able to make legal sports bets within the state’s boundaries by the end of the year.

Millions of dollars are illegally gambled on sporting events each year in Kentucky.  There is no sense in letting that activity occur without regulating and taxing it in the spirit of utilitarianism.  As noted above, the proceeds from sports gambling taxes will benefit the greater good of Kentucky by funding its pension system and other social programs.  Add in the fact that sports gambling legalization moves the activity away from the shady black market to a market with regulations and statewide crime will inevitably decline.

Opposition to Bill 606 

The passage of Bill 606 certainly has the potential to lead to degeneracy yet it will ultimately be a net positive for the state.  However, the proposed bill will not pass into law without a battle.  As an example, the Family Foundation has firmly opposed the bill.  This conservative group is steadfastly opposed to the legalization of sports gambling, insisting it is bad public policy and bad government as a whole.  

David Walls, the Executive Director of the foundation, has seized the opportunity to argue that sports gambling is inherently predatory, meaning it preys on vulnerabilities inherent in all human beings.  Though Walls’ argument might ring true with some Kentucky politicians and voters, support for Bill 606 grows with each passing day.  If the public’s will is recognized, Bill 606 will be passed into law, setting the stage for Kentuckians to wager on professional and college sports events (but for those involving college sports events played in Kentucky) before the start of 2023.

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