Kentucky Governor Pushing Gambling Expansion in Budget Proposal

Expanding the gambling industry in Kentucky has been under consideration for quite some time. Lawmakers have been reviewing options for expanding, including sports betting as well as casino gaming. Just this month, Governor Andy Beshear has shown his support for an expansion by pushing the issue again with his first budget proposal. Efforts have been increased to legalize sports betting but nothing is certain at the moment.

New Revenue Source

Many lawmakers in the state see the expansion as a way to bring in a new source of revenue. The state would benefit from the taxes paid by operators of gaming but also from regulatory fees. The budget plan by Governor Beshear includes an increase in spending for Medicaid, education as well as transportation. Because of this increase, more money is needed in the state.

One of the ways that Beshear plans on paying the additional funds is with casinos and sportsbooks. The Governor wants to see Kentucky expand their gaming horizons and offer more to bring in much-needed funds. Beshear stated that he hopes full, expanded gaming will be embraced by the state so they can compete with their neighbors, states that are taking their residents money via gaming offerings.

While the Governor does have some support, not everyone in Legislature is on board. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer has stated in the past that he is in favor of sportsbooks but it will take more than one lawmaker to get ht ball rolling.

Republican Representative Adam Koenig, the sponsor of the sports betting bill, has pointed out that bipartisan support is essential in turning the bill into law. One problem is the way in which sports betting would be legalized. Some feel that legalizing sports betting will require an amendment to the constitution. This of course would take longer to process.

It seems that for the past few months, lawmakers in the state cannot get on the same page when it comes to sports betting and casino legislation. While the governor has placed the options in his budget proposal, it may not have enough support to move forward, which will cause the state to only become further behind their competitors.

Indiana Gaming

Right now, residents of Kentucky can drive just a few minutes and reach a casino in the state of Indiana. As Beshear pointed out, Indiana, along with several other states, are taking precious funds from their residents. If Kentucky were to legalize casinos and sports betting, Indiana gaming would take a hit.

Hollywood Lawrencburg is a casino just over the border of Kentucky and a hot spot for residents in the sate as well as Indiana. Players easily travel to the venue to play games and have fun. If there were casinos in Kentucky, the players would most likely stay close to home which would only benefit the state.

In Indiana, players only have to be inside the state borders to place online sports bets. Kentucky residents can simply cross the state line, place a bet and go back home if they so please. Indiana would definitely be hurt financially if Kentucky lawmakers can ever come to an agreement and allow a gambling expansion.

For now, we have to wait and see what unfolds in Kentucky Legislature. The governor will continue to push for new gaming options and will shall see who joins in for change regarding the overall gambling industry of the state.


Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.