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Kentucky Getting Closer to Online Poker Legalization

Summary: Online poker, daily fantasy sports and sports betting are getting closer to reality in Kentucky as legislation involving everything moves forward.

Gambling is expanding in the United States at a rapid pace. Across the nation, state after state are seeing some form of gambling considered. In some states, the goal is to pass sports betting legislation. In others, other types of iGaming are in the mix. In Kentucky, lawmakers are hoping to approve a number of expansions within their gambling industry including online poker, daily fantasy sports and sports betting.

Gambling Package

A bill involving all of these aspects recently moved forward in Kentucky Legislature. This week, the Licensing and Occupations Committee voted in approval to move forward a substitute for H 175 on to the House floor. H 190 is another bill under consideration, this one focusing on casino gaming. Yet three more bills are on the table for sports betting only.

The online gambling bill is primarily sponsored by Representative Adam Koenig. He is the chairman of the Licensing and Occupations Committee. He vacated the chair in order to be able to submit his bill to fellow lawmakers. In his presentation, Keonig said that he wants to provide more freedom, safety to the people as well as money to the state.

With the bill, sports betting operators would have to pay a $500,000 licensing fee and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would be in charge of both daily fantasy sports and sports betting. Online poker would be overseen by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation.

Poker Modifications

With the legislation, the modifications of the measure also focus on online poker. Specifically, the changes focus on operators like PokerStars, who in the past in other states legislation considerations, have been deemed bad actors.

For Koenig, he mentions the lawsuit the state had with PokerStars and says that any changes would not absolve the company of liability due to the state. Recently, the company successfully appealed a civil judgment in which $1 billion was set to be paid to the state involving their prior operations.

A section was added to the bill in order to eliminate the brand from operating within their state as the new marketplace emerges. In the bill it says that vendors must not have been convicted of a violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. This of course is referring to PokerStars, but the company was never convicted of being in violation of the UIGEA. So, it will be interesting to see if the state will actually be able to keep PokerStars from participating.

For now, the bill still has a way to go before anything will be legalized. Key components must be covered, including creating a fund for problem gambling. It is important to establish this fund so that players will have the help they need if a gambling addiction were to occur.

It is surprising to see that Kentucky is the latest state to be considering gambling legislation, particularly online poker. The state has proven to be a conservative one in the past involving the option. We shall see in the coming weeks how the legislation progresses and if Kentucky will be the next to pass a gamign package involving several aspects of expansion.