Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed HB594 into law, officially banning unregulated “skill” games throughout the Bluegrass State.
The American Gaming Association called the legislation “a milestone victory for the legal gaming industry in our fight against illegal gambling.”
“Kentucky is the first state to pass standalone legislation banning unregulated gambling machines and joins Virginia in taking proactive government action to eliminate these bad actors,” AGA said.
“This win is a testament to what we can accomplish when we unite as an industry behind a common cause—and the American Gaming Association will use it as a springboard to pursue similar success in states throughout the country.”
According to the AGA, Americans last year wagered $511 billion with unregulated machines and illegal sportsbooks and online casinos. The AGA said it deprived governments of more than $13 billion in tax revenue.
According to the group, there are more than 580,000 illegal gambling machines nationwide. State regulatory data for similar machines shows that the operator win percentage on unregulated gambling machines is significantly higher than on legal casino slot machines. Over a full calendar year, slot machines in Nevada have a 7 percent win rate, compared to a nearly 25 percent estimated win rate for unregulated devices.
There are about 870,000 regulated slot machines in the U.S.
The bill signed into law authorizes the Kentucky Attorney General, the Commonwealth’s attorney for any locality, or the county attorney for any locality, to establish a civil penalty not to exceed $25,000 for each device for any person who conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, or owns a gambling device in violation of the law.
Kentucky doesn’t have any Las Vegas-style casinos or sports betting of any kind. There have been efforts to legalize both online sports betting and poker, but efforts in previous years have fallen short.