The state of Kentucky was looking to legalize sports betting by the end of 2020, but it appears that it is not going to happen. The one-year state budget was approved on Wednesday morning, and the proposed revenue from sports betting was not included in the proposal. There is still a chance that lawmakers can get a bill proposed and approved before the deadline, but it appears extremely unlikely at this point in time.
Some lawmakers were hoping that the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic would help gain enough support to approve sports betting legislation, but that doesn’t seem likely. The state’s projected budget does account for some financial losses during the 2020 fiscal year, but it appears that most lawmakers are comfortable in dealing with that loss.
The one-year proposed budget calls for $11.6 billion in revenue, but top lawmakers have noted that they are projected to bring in somewhere around $11.4 billion. That’s a difference of close to $200 million, and the revenue from sports betting could have accounted for that lost money.
Kentucky lawmakers had worked hard to come up with a sports betting bill in hopes of getting something passed before the session ended. Those efforts seemed to come to an end when lawmakers were sent home in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
State officials have stated that sports betting would not have helped the state out during this time, because almost all live sports are currently suspended or postponed. The proposed budget will be signed soon, and sports betting will have to wait until another year.
Sports Betting Bill Stalled in House
It appeared that sports betting was going to become legalized in 2020, as a sports betting bill was getting passed through by lawmakers in a hurry. House Bill 137 was introduced in January, and by early February had already passed through committee with a unanimous vote.
All that was waiting was a vote by the House of Representatives to send it to the Senate for approval. Unfortunately, that vote never took place, and the bill effectively died out without any discussion taking place.
The bill was discussed several different times in the House of Representatives; both those members were never able to come to a conclusion about what they thought of the bill. The expansion of legal gambling has always been a difficult topic for legislators in Kentucky, especially for members of the Republican party.
Horse racing is a major part of Kentucky, and it provides tremendous revenue that the state depends on. Lawmakers in support of the bill were outlining the increased revenue that sports betting would provide, but those opposed to the bill were afraid that it would take away from the fabric of the state.
Another problem facing House Bill 137 was that some of the top members of the Senate were opposed to the bill from the beginning. Members of the House, especially Republicans, were not going to vote for a bill that they knew would not pass in the Senate. There was enough of these lawmakers that forced the bill to be stalled out, and a vote was never taken.
House Bill 137 would have allowed for legalized betting on both collegiate and professional sporting events. All bets would have been placed at the race tracks currently operating in the state, and that revenue would be taxed. There was plenty of public support of House Bill 137, especially from the race tracks, but it appears that the issue will now have to wait until 2021 or later if it ever becomes voted upon.