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The sports betting legalization progress in KY could halt with pending amendments.

  • KY HB 137 is the bill that could potentially bring legal sports betting to Kentucky.
  • There are 11 amendments that could derail the chances of legalizing sports betting.
  • The legislative session in Kentucky ends on April 15.

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A number of amendments proposed on Tuesday could potentially kill the promising Kentucky sports betting bill KY HB 137.

KY HB 137 was progressing rather smoothly in the State House. Rep. Adam Koenig believed that the bill would easily pass through the House. Now he has his doubts thanks to the 11 proposed amendments.

Raising The Tax Rate

Originally, KY HB 137 wanted to tax retail sportsbooks at a 9.75 percent rate and mobile at a 14.25 percent rate. Both tax proposals would allow Kentucky sports betting operations to profit while allowing the state government to collect a fair amount of taxes.

That could possibly change thanks to some amendments. Rep. Jason Petrie’s amendments would increase the amount of taxes collected from legal sports betting in Kentucky. He offered incremental tax increase proposals. Sports betting could be taxed anywhere between 14 percent and 42.25 percent.

The higher the tax rate, the less of a payout bettors will get and the less profits sportsbooks will receive. This defeats the purpose of bringing Kentucky sports betting into a state-regulated market.

Sports Betting Location Is Put Into Question

The original bill proposed that both mobile sports betting and retail sportsbooks would be allowed. Horse tracks and the Kentucky Speedway will have the option to open sportsbooks.

An amendment proposed by Rep. Petrie would change that. An amendment would allow local city governments to opt-out of sports betting. Doing so would prevent mobile sportsbooks to function in such locations. This would further complicate implementing mobile sportsbooks in Kentucky.

But a different amendment proposed by Rep. Richard Heath could potentially expand the number of potential sportsbooks. Rep. Heath’s amendment would allow the Kentucky Lottery to get in on the action.

Lottery retailers would able to operate sportsbooks as well. This could add more than 3,200 sportsbooks to the state. The amendments proposed by Rep. Heath and Rep. Petrie appear to conflict with each other.

The Partisan Obstacle

It will take some time for the Kentucky House to fix up the sports betting bill. Rep. Koenig expects that once the bill is passed through the House, it should have an easier time in the State Senate.

But the political divide could stop the bill completely. Governor Andy Beshear is a Democrat and is for legalizing sports betting in Kentucky. Much of the state’s legislature is Republican. There are Republican representatives and senators that do not want to give the Democratic governor a win.

There is also a divide amongst the Republican party as well. Evangelical lawmakers believe that expanding gambling in Kentucky would be against their faith. It will be difficult to pass a Kentucky sports betting bill if partisanship comes into play. The bill has until the Kentucky legislative session ends on April 15 to pass.

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