Another Year of Disappointment for Sports Betting Legalization Efforts in Kentucky

  • No vote took place in the Senate on House Bill 6060 before the end of the session
  • The bill would have allowed retail betting at racetracks and statewide online sports betting
  • The House voted in favor of the bill, but it did not get enough support from Senate Republicans
  • It appears that there would be plenty of public support in Kentucky for legal sports betting
Statue of Barbaro outside of Churchill Downs
Efforts to legalize sports betting in Kentucky were unsuccessful for a fourth straight year as the 2022 legislative session comes to an end. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Another unsuccessful attempt

There will be no legalizing sports betting this year in Kentucky. Despite a sports betting bill getting lots of attention in recent months, the final day of the state’s legislative session came and went with no vote on the matter.

would also have allowed statewide online betting

On Thursday, House Bill 6060 did not manage to make it out of the Senate Committee on Economic Development. If the bill had gotten approval in the full Senate (and, in turn, was signed by the governor), it would have brought legal retail sports betting to the horse racing tracks in the state, such as at the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. The bill would also have allowed statewide online betting.

Not enough support

While Democrats did support the bill, it reportedly would have been about four votes short from Republicans to have a shot at passage. The House had already voted in favor of the bill 58-30 at the start of March. While the bill’s main sponsor Adam Koenig tried to get sufficient support in the Senate since then, these efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. 

people in Kentucky could be waiting some time for legal sports betting

While there will be another chance in 2023 to try to push through legal sports betting, the odds of success are low. This is because the odd-year legislative sessions in Kentucky are only 30 days long and bills need a three-fifths majority to pass. Therefore, people in Kentucky could be waiting some time for legal sports betting. 

There was support in the Senate for the bill to get through, but there was also a lot of debate about the specifics of the legislation. In total, 17 amendments were made to the bill. One of the main advocates was Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, who said of the unsuccessful legalization attempt: “I’m for sports betting. I think it’s a natural extension of our history and tradition in betting on horses in Kentucky.”

Appetite for legal sports betting in Kentucky

There certainly appears to be an appetite among the public for legal sports betting. Most of Kentucky’s neighboring states currently have legal online sports betting. According to data from GeoComply that the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce recently highlighted, there were over 530,000 attempts in March from people in Kentucky to access or make a bet through an online sportsbook. 

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is a supporter of sports betting legalization. It is the fourth consecutive year that a legalization bill has failed.

GeoComply also noted that there are over 41,000 unique sportsbook accounts in Kentucky, with these people likely crossing the border into the likes of Virginia, Tennessee, and Indiana to place their online wagers. As a result, Kentucky is missing out on the subsequent tax revenue.