FRANKFORT, Ky.  – The Kentucky House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee passed KY HB 175 on Wednesday, bringing the state one step closer to legalizing gambling on sports. 

The Committee approved the bill on a 14-0 vote with only one member of the committee passing on the vote. The legislation will now move to the full House where the bill needs 60 out of the 100 House members to pass. This is because last year, state lawmakers approved a two-year spending plan. Since the new sports bill will raise and spend money, 60 House members are needed to approve the bill.  

Funding What Needs To Be Funded

Lawmakers think that sports wagering could potentially bring in $20 million a year in revenue. According to the Commonwealth Economics firm, that number increases to $48 million if Kentucky beats out surrounding states to legalize sports wagering.  

Kentucky’s pension system is underfunded by $37 billion. Lawmakers are hoping that the revenue generated from taxing sports betting could help fix this problem. Most of the money generated would go directly into the pension system, while a small sum will go to treating gambling addiction. Bookmakers will pay a 9.75 percent tax on revenue and 14.25 percent will be taxed from wagers made online. 

Not Everyone Is A Fan Of The Bill

Although Kentucky needs the money, HB 175 faces heavy opposition from other lawmakers in the state. The basis for their rejection stems from both moral and legal perspectives.

“I think there are a lot of Republicans who are against it,” said Representative Chris Fugate, who is also a pastor. “I hope it fails.”

 The Family Foundation, a conservative advocacy group, has stated that the bill would violate the state Constitution. The Constitution in Kentucky outlaws “any game of chance, which has been interpreted to include many forms of gambling like daily fantasy sports.

Advocate groups who want lawmakers to strictly abide by the Constitution will sound alarms to likeminded lawmakers to vote against the bill. The House needs a super majority vote to pass and representatives like Fugate could sway other representatives to vote against the bill. 

Lawmakers are on the clock as well. The current legislature adjourns March 29, so there isn’t much time to pass this bill. Lawmakers who want the legislation to pass have to work quickly to convince their fellow representatives to pass the bill and legalize sports betting in Kentucky.

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