Kentucky Legalizes Online Sports Gambling

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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday signed House Bill 551, which legalizes sports betting in Kentucky.

“Now, after years of urging action, sports betting is legal in Kentucky. We finally did it! Today’s result shows that hard work pays off,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement. “Kentuckians will soon be able to place their bets here, and for the first time, we are going to keep those dollars here to support our economy and communities.”

Kentucky is the 38th state to legalize sports betting. The law will go into effect in late June.

Sports betting will generate an estimated revenue increase of $23 million a year upon full implementation that will be dedicated to the Kentucky permanent pension fund and 2.5% to the problem gambling assistance account. The bill will also establish new excise taxes on sports wagering: 9.75% on the adjusted gross revenues on wagers made at a licensed facility and 14.25% on wagers placed online or on a smartphone.

“I appreciate the Governor’s decision to sign this measure and look forward to working with the administration as sports wagering is implemented. Clearly, the time has come,” said bill sponsor Rep. Michael Meredith of Oakland. “An overwhelming number of Kentuckians support allowing consenting adults to legally wager on sporting events. We know that many are already placing bets today; they’re just with illegal, unregulated offshore gaming entities and the state is left carrying the burden. As HB 551 becomes law, our commonwealth can begin reaping some of the benefits.”

“I have zero doubt that sports betting will be a natural fit for a state that has made betting on horses its calling card for nearly 150 years,” said Rep. Al Gentry of Louisville, the primary co-sponsor of House Bill 551. “I have been proud to collaborate with and advocate for this legislation with state Rep. Michael Meredith, the current bill’s sponsor, and former state Representative Adam Koenig, who sponsored previous versions. It took a lot of work to get to this point, but it was worth it.”

Gov. Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman have continually encouraged the General Assembly to legalize sports betting.

“We have a real urgency in Kentucky. We need new revenue to support the needs of our communities, our state and especially our children who deserve the best education,” Gov. Beshear said in 2020.

“We have an urgency to keep millions of Kentucky dollars from crossing our rivers and going to support the education and pension systems in our neighboring states. We are with business, education and pension leaders – Republicans and Democrats – working together on the same team. We all agree that passing sports betting is the right thing to do and we are working together to help move the state forward.”





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