FRANKFORT, Ky. — Lawmakers may take another shot at legalized sports betting this year.
Most of Kentucky’s neighbors have some form of sports gambling — and supporters of the idea say Kentucky is losing out on millions in revenue.
Northern Kentucky Rep. Adam Koenig (R) sponsors House Bill 241, — which allows betting on both pro and college sports, fantasy sports, and online poker.
Koenig says it’s not that hard to go around the state’s prohibition on wagering.
"You can place a wager either by driving across the state line, by going to a bookie, by going to offshore betting accounts or finding a buddy who has an app in any one of the 20-something states that allow it in the country and says, ‘Hey, I’m going to Venmo you 10 bucks; can you put down a bet on this game?’ It’s that easy, and so we are leaving money on the table; we’re leaving our citizens without the necessary regulation to make sure they’re protected. And to me, none of that makes sense."
Koenig's bill has bi-partisan support but received pushback from some republicans who feel it will lead to problems like gambling addiction.
Some of the money generated by the proposal would go to gambling addiction programs — some would also go towards Kentucky’s pension debt.
Koenig expects the bill to bring in $22.5 million per year, but he says that’s more of a conservative estimate.
He cited a figure from the American Gaming Association that said Kentuckians place more than $2 billion worth of illegal sports bets each year.
Anyone interested in applying for a sports gaming license, which is only available to licensed horse tracks, professional sports venues, or anyone who creates an app through a registered track or professional sports venue, would have to pay an initial $500,000 fee and an annual renewal fee of $50,000.
The tax rate on sports bets would be either 9.75% (in person) or 14.25% (online).
Cities and counties may impose an additional license or fee.
Anyone interested in obtaining an online poker license would have to pay a $250,000 initial fee and an annual renewal fee of $10,000.
Net poker revenue would be taxed at 6.75% for each vendor.
Fantasy contests with 100 or more people would be subject to an initial registration fee of $5,000 and an annual renewal fee of at least $5,000 dollars, depending on how much money is generated.
The bill passed out of committee last year but did not receive a full vote in the house.
Koenig says he has not heard when it will receive a committee vote this year.