- Wagering on sports in the state of Kentucky is not illegal under the Constitution.
- A co-sponsor of a bill to legalize the hobby has stated that gambling on sports is a game of skill rather than chance and skill is allowed while chance is not.
- The current bill has been heard by the House but no final vote has been made on it.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Jason Nemes, of the Kentucky House of Representatives, says that sports betting in Kentucky is legal. Before Kentucky residents get too excited, there is currently no law stating this nor are there any sportsbooks for them to go and wager.
Nemes thinks it’s a matter of semantics within the Constitution.
Nemes’ Way Of Thinking
“Replete in the definition of gambling in our statutes is ‘game of chance,’ game of chance,'” said Nemes “Well, I believe, and I know a lot our sister states have found, that sports betting is not game of chance. It’s a game of skill.”
Nemes would not be the first person to argue this in the Bluegrass State. In December, a meeting with the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations saw lawyer and professor Daniel Wallach’s testimony stating the same thing. When it comes time to discuss legalizing sports betting further, lawmakers would see the historical research done on the Constitution, noting that no amendments would be needed due to the semantics.
KY HB 137 is a bill that is co-sponsored by Nemes and would allow for both online and retail sports wagering for professional and collegiate sports.
The bill was passed quickly through the House Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations by a unanimous vote of 18-0 to move onto the House. However, after being presented on the floor January 15, no official votes were made in favor of or against the bill.
“Let’s pass the sports betting bill to bring regulation, bring taxation to the bill and fix the industry and set it up for our people,” said Nemes.
The Legislature will be in session for a total of sixty days. No date has been set for further discussion of KY HB 137. The constitution of the Bluegrass State only covers games of chance as something that is not allowed. While this makes sense for regular casino games like slots or roulette, it does not hold up for the topic of sports betting in Kentucky.
Wagering on sporting events takes knowledge and skill. Those that gamble on sporting matches can attest that they do their research before putting their money on the line. For these reasons, sports betting would be deemed a legal pastime by the Constitution.
Nemes, as well as Wallach and others, have brought this to the attention of the legislature. Not legalizing the bill will be a hard argument to make when it’s been made clear that the Bluegrass State not only wants to make sports betting legal, they are possibly within their rights to do so.
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.