Is Legal Kentucky Sports Betting Already Off The Table In 2021?

  • Kentucky may not have enough time in 2021 to consider making sports wagering a legal industry as they will hold a shortened session.
  • The gaming focus is slated for historical horse racing, a huge moneymaker for the Bluegrass State that has only recently been made illegal by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The topic of sports betting legalization during the 2021 Kentucky session already looks like it will not be up for discussion for quite a few reasons.

The Kentucky General Assembly meets for shorter sessions in odd-numbered years, so 2021 will see lawmakers come together for a total of 30 days to decide on a number of bills that have been drafted.

While Representative Adam Koenig who headed up a sports betting proposal in 2020 will be doing the same in 2021, he is not as enthusiastic about its success with everything that’s going on in the Bluegrass State at the moment.

Reasons Sports Betting May Need To Wait Until 2022

Kentucky’s General Assembly comes together beginning with a handful of days in January to nail down all of the participating committees and their members for the hearings that will be scheduled.

Then, as many bills as possible will be heard in February and March, with the session adjourning for the year on March 30. February and March will see 26 actual days of meetings to listen and approve legislation on the most pressing matters but will legal sports betting be on that agenda?

The state saw $2.2 billion in wagers placed with historical horse racing (HHR) terminals that brought in $33.8 million worth of revenue in 2020. But in September, the Kentucky Supreme Court made some of these machines for betting on the horses illegal by a 7-0 vote.

That’s a huge chunk of revenue that will be lost in the coming fiscal year should these machines not be reinstated as legal. This subject will be on the schedule for lawmakers for the 2021 session in the hopes of overturning the Supreme Court’s decision.

With this in mind, Koenig believes that historical horse racing will take center stage for gaming legalization and put sports betting on the back burner.

The Bluegrass State is already conservative and with a shorter session ahead, it does not seem as likely that they’d have time to talk about and approve two gambling bills. However, this could also go in the opposite direction and work out favorably for Kentucky sports betting legislation.

How This Could All Pan Out For Kentuckians

Policymakers in Kentucky made their last big move in the gaming industry with the passing of the lottery in 1988. Thirty-three years later, they could make their next change and legalize historical horse racing machines and sports betting.

While HHR is almost certain to be approved because of all of the money it has brought to the economy of Kentucky over the years, should sports betting get its time on the floor, it could also see approval. In a post-COVID-19 financial era, even conservative states like Kentucky are open to all new revenue streams, at least to the point of discussing them.

The Bluegrass State is surrounded by Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia; all states with legalized sports wagering markets. Kentuckians can venture to these places or use offshore online sportsbooks to place legal bets.

This is all money lost for Kentucky but with any luck, the General Assembly will take this into consideration in 2021 if sports wagering proposals make it to the floor.

Should there not be enough time, 2022 will see a fair amount of attention on the subject of legalizing the gambling on sporting events.

News tags: Adam Koenig | Coronavirus pandemic | COVID-19 | historical horse racing | Illinois | Indiana | Kentucky | Kentucky General Assembly | Kentucky Supreme Court | Tennessee | Virginia | West Virginia

Christina Monroe

Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.

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