Kentucky bill would give racing commission control of sports betting

February 12, 2019 03:08pm

A new bipartisan bill to allow legal sports betting, online poker and fantasy sports in Kentucky was introduced on Feb. 5 by state representative Adam Koenig, with the support of 14 others. HB 175 would give the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission control over sports wagering. 

Racetracks and other professional sports venues would be able to obtain a sports wagering license from the KHRC for $1 million followed by an annual $50,000 renewal fee.

Online and mobile applications may also offer sports wagering but would require in-person registration to verify players are at least 18, must have geographical location software to ensure wagering remains in Kentucky’s borders, and must allow advanced deposit wagering for sports events.

Wagers would be allowed on professional sports with organizations such as the NFL or NBA, as well as NCAA sports. Kentucky sporting events would be excluded. At the discretion of the KHRC, the bill also mentions international events like the Olympics and World Cup, as well as nonsporting events like the Oscars and Emmys.

“Further, it hereby is declared the policy and intent of the Commonwealth that citizens shall be allowed to enjoy wagering on sporting events in a controlled environment that protects the citizens from cheating and fraud,” says HB 175, “and that such wagering shall be best controlled and overseen by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission which has demonstrated a long and successful history of regulating wagering.”

Kentucky's top racetrack, of course, is Churchill Downs, which has also taken ownership of multiple casino properties across the country. This week, Churchill Downs Inc. also went live with its BetAmerica brand in New Jersey to accept wagers on sports, joining another of its books in Mississippi.

Since last year's repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Provision Act, legalization of sports betting is now a state-by-state issue, throwing into question how the racing industry is ready to react -- both to new competition and the possibility of another revenue stream for racetracks.

A bill similar to the one in Kentucky,
 HB 1132, was last Friday introduced in Maryland, home to Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.


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