Kentucky Sports Betting: Could 2022 Be The Year?

Historical horse racing is credited with saving Kentucky’s horse industry. Now, some wonder if newfound legislative support for HHR could translate into support for sports betting in the Bluegrass State.

Rep. Adam Koenig is one of them. The Northern Kentucky Republican and chair of the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee said this year’s passage of a law shoring up Kentucky’s HHR industry could signal a change in gambling views in Frankfort.

“We were looking at people losing their jobs immediately. Obviously, that isn’t the case with sports wagering. But there were several members who could have gone either way and voted yes, who received virtually no pushback,” Koenig said in an email to Gaming Today on Wednesday. “That should help those members and others vote their conscience” on sports betting.

Lawmakers added HHR to the state’s statutory definition of pari-mutuel wagering this year to avoid additional legal challenges to historical horse racing in Kentucky. The Kentucky Supreme Court in January declined to revisit a 2020 ruling challenging HHR’s legality, forcing tracks to shutter their HHR operations.

The HHR bil l passed by a bipartisan vote of 55-38 in the state House of Representatives after clearing the Senate 22-15 just two days earlier. It was signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear on Feb. 22. Is Sports Betting A Stretch For This Horse State?

Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, and New York all have rich histories of horse racing and horse betting. All four also have legalized sports betting. Not so in Kentucky, where a taste for HHR hasn’t extended to legal sports betting — at least not among a majority of state lawmakers.

All of Koenig’s attempts to legalize sports betting in three of the last four years hit a wall.

The Erlanger lawmaker shelved a 2021 bill to focus on the HHR industry, but says he will be pushing for Kentucky sports betting again when the Kentucky General Assembly reconvenes in Jan. 2022.

That proposal will look similar to Koenig’s 2020 bill that would have legalized statewide mobile/online sports betting and retail sports betting at Kentucky’s horse tracks, the Kentucky Speedway in […]

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