Will Online Gambling Legislation Move Forward in Kentucky?

Just a few weeks ago, the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee of the Kentucky House approved an online gambling bill. The unanimous vote sent the bill to the House Rules Committee, where it has sat with no movement. Sponsor of the bill, Representative Adam Koenig, has already said a vote is not happening yet. So, will online gambling eventually be moving forward in the state?

What’s Needed?

HB 137 needs to get enough votes to move out of the House and then it would move on to the Senate. The members of the Senate must approve the bill and then Governor Andy Beshear will need to sign the measure. He has stated support for the option in the past, so that part shouldn’t be a problem.

However, if the bill gets to that point, it may also face a constitutional challenge from those who are opposed to the option. Groups who are not in favor of legalized online gambling think that the bill cannot move forward without an amendment to the state’s constitution, which is a process that state lawmakers are not doing.

Family Foundation

When it comes to those who are opposed, the Family Foundation of Kentucky is at the front of the line. The non-profit organization was founded back in the late 1980s and continues to focus on such topics as traditional marriage, education, drugs, abortion and pornography. However, they also oppose gambling when the need arises.

The Family Foundation has stated that the bill is in trouble because it does not have enough support and has constitutional issues. Before the bill was voted on in the committee a few weeks ago, Senior Policy Analyst Martin Cothran presented testimony to the committee that the bill goes against the constitution.

Cothran expects the Senate to check the House attempts to expand on gambling in the stat as they have done before. Cothran also recently sent a press release out that said the bill is in trouble, claiming that the measure will not get out of the lower chamber.

For 2020, it is a budget year, so legislature in Kentucky requires only 51 votes to move the bill out of the House. Last year, a bill regarding online gambling needed 60 votes and fell short. But even if the bill moves through the House, there is still the Senate to contend with.

The Senate is currently working on a sports betting bill known as SB 24, so there is fear that it will take precedence over the online gambling measure. We could see both bills move forward or the Senate might not want to push the online gambling bill through at the same time as their sports betting option.

We will stay connected to the upcoming updates for both the House and Senate measures and report as details are provided. Kentucky would generally benefit from both options, but only time will tell if the state will be able to approve both sports betting and online gambling at the same time.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

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