It looked like 2019 was going to be the year for online poker gaming in Kentucky. However, efforts were dashed, and expanded options were not in the cards. Representative Adam Koenig is not ready to give up though. The lawmaker has already pre-filed legislation to expand regulated gambling in the state with a bill that will not only legalize online poker but also daily fantasy sports and multi-channel sports betting.
Same Bill, Different Landscape
The bill introduced by Rep Koenig looks similar to the effort made earlier this year, but the landscape has changed from a legislative standpoint. Governor Andy Beshear is now in place, someone that has already asked for lawmakers to expand gambling in the state. He should be a much better supporter than Matt Beven, the previous governor who was anti-gambling.
Another plus for the state is that 2020 is a budget year so it will be a two-year session. With an extended schedule, there is more time to pass bills and only a simple majority is needed to pass a bill.
There is also regional pressure at play. Not one but four neighbors of the state have sports betting in place and West Virginia just approved poker and casino gambling online. To be able to hang with their neighbors, Kentucky must get on board with gambling changes coming into play in the region.
Calling Out PokerStars
From the 2019 bill, the 2020 edition is pretty similar except for new clauses added to the section regarding online poker. Language has been added that seems to be directed at PokerStars. The online poker giant is essentially the only company that meets the criteria set in the new sections.
A legal dispute erupted in Kentucky years ago after Black Friday when PokerStars had operated in the state. Originally, the court had ordered the online poker operator to pay fines of $900 million. However, later on, an appellate judge reversed the decision. The state is still trying to collect this money. The change to the measure seems to be a way to keep PokerStars out of the state.
This is a shame though as the PokerStars name alone can bring in big business when it comes to online poker. The state could certainly benefit from allowing the brand to offer services within their borders. However, it seems that Kentucky feels slighted and they will not be willing to let bygones be bygones and will be doing what they can legally to keep PokerStars from operating in their state.
As the new year begins, we expect to see more details involving the online poker efforts in Kentucky. Is the legal landscape finally right to see online poker legalized and players in the state will have access to regulated services?
Only time will tell. We will stay tuned to any legislative updates and report information as it is revealed. Hopefully, 2020 will be a better year for online poker in Kentucky and we will see the approval of legislation in no time.