On March 31, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear authorized the legalization of sports betting in the state, paving the way for sportsbooks and gaming operators to operate legally.
Kentucky is now the 37th state to have legalized sports betting, with Maine and Nebraska following through with their bills this year. Representative Michael Meredith initially proposed the HB 551 bill. It received 25-12 votes in the Senate, surpassing the three-fifths majority threshold.
Beshear signed off on the bill almost immediately after receiving it. The governor described the potential economic gains of the bill, which would also allow the state to provide more entertainment to its many sports fans.
“For years I believed it was time for Kentucky to join so many other states and pass sports betting. This industry will bring new jobs, tourism, and growth. I am proud today that I am going to sign it into law,” he said.
The new sports betting regulations will be enacted on June 28, 2023. After that, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission must take six months to decide on more detailed rules before tracks can officially apply for licenses.
Kentucky’s horse tracks like Churchill Downs will be able to license retail sports betting options for their fans. HB 551 also enables online sports betting, allowing licensed horse tracks to collaborate with up to 27 online sports operators.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will award licenses to regulated tracks and operators.
Tracks must pay $500,000 as an initial fee for licensing, with an additional annual fee of $50,000. Sports operators partnering with tracks must also contribute $50,000 upfront to the Commission and a $10,000 renewal fee every year.
According to Senator Majority Leader Damon Thayer’s estimations, the sports betting bill may contribute $23 million every year to the state. Thayer noted Kentucky’s reputation as a “sports-crazy state,” with other senators noting their district’s enthusiasm for betting and gaming entertainment.
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