Common Ground: Sports Betting

06/25/2018 04:56 PM

After the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it was unconstitutional to prevent states from betting on sports—state legislatures have been rushing trying to pass legislation to begin cashing on the potential money maker.

In Kentucky, it’s no different. While the bluegrass state isn’t exactly new to wagering on sports—after all the most watched horse race of the year takes place at Churchhill Downs each May—a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers are betting the state can make some big bucks by regulating the industry.

A newly announced bipartisan panel of nine lawmakers was just formed to regulate sports betting in the Commonwealth.

The purpose of the panel is to work on drafting and filing legislation to legalize sports betting“prefiled legislation “: in the state. The panel consists of members from the House and Senate—representing 20 counties throughout the Commonwealth. The legislation created from this panel will be filed in both chambers—and focus on professional sports, with some limited college sports gambling. Lawmakers have said they will not allow betting on high school sports or below. It’s estimated sports betting could generate between $5.5 million to $26 million annually.

The members of the group include: Reps. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, John Sims, D-Flemingsburg, Diane St. Onge, R-Fort Wright, Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, George Brown, D-Lexington and Dean Schamore, D-Hardinsburg. And Sens. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, and Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort.

Sen. Carroll has already gotten a head start on the panel—and prefiled legislation to regulate sports betting.

The legislation would set up the framework to allow any horse racing track or off track wagering facility to offer sports gambling. Carroll had filed identical legislation last session—but it did not get a hearing.

The bill would require most of the revenue generated from sports wagering go toward KERS and KTRS systems. Funds would also go to the Kentucky education excellence scholarship and horse racing development funds.

But-while a bipartisan group of lawmakers are working together to bring in the extra revenue to begin to shave off some of the state’s deficit—-notoriously anti-gambling Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, hasn’t come out with a strong position for or against the matter.

While speaking with reporters in May, Bevin laid the responsibility on lawmakers.

“I’m agnostic at this point because we don’t have enough information, we really don’t,” Bevin said. “I think it would be wise to always make sure we always have all of the information available to use before any changes or determinations is made and that really is the role of elected officials in the state.”

It can be expected that lawmakers will take quick action on sports betting legislation when the General Assembly meets for 2019 legislative session. While it’s believed a sports betting bill will sail to a bipartisan victory—it’s chances could be blocked by Gov. Bevin. But that won’t be known until lawmakers head back to Frankfort in January.

Watch the segment:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at


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