It’s time the proponents of expanding gambling in the Kentucky General Assembly must convince skeptical senators to allow online poker and sports betting in Kentucky, at least for this year’s legislative session. .
[HB 606] is very much alive. I’m not saying it’s going to pass, but I have active conversations with senators and I believe there is a way.Supporters got a big break when a key lawmaker, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), announced this week that he would have the Senate read HB 606 twice before the start of a 10-day suspension of veto Thursday. Legislation must be read three times in each chamber before it is passed.
At the end of the recess, the Senate will have exactly two days – April 13 and 14 – to act on any pending legislation before the General Assembly adjourns sine die. Whether the HB 606 or its counterpart, the HB 609, will make the cut remains to be seen. Both bills had their first reading in the Senate on Tuesday and their second reading on Wednesday.
Eliminating two of the Senate’s three readings before the recess could prove crucial, as it gives Thayer and the sponsor of both bills, Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), time to drum up support.
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“[HB 606] is very much alive,” Koenig said on Twitter last Friday. “I’m not saying it’s going to pass, but I’m having active conversations with senators and I believe there’s a way.”
John Cox, director of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, agreed.
“Although narrow, there is still a path to legalizing sports betting in Kentucky in 2022,” Cox said. fuse poker Wednesday. “We are committed to doing everything in our power to show lawmakers over the next two weeks that a majority of the Commonwealth wants to bet on basketball and football matches in the same way they already can. betting on horse racing.”
Ask for the support of the Senate
Although HB 606 has garnered bipartisan support in the House — and will likely garner some in the Senate as well — many conservatives oppose the bill, which would allow seven racetracks across the state to offer online poker. and to have a skin for sports betting.
[Sportsbetting is] everywhere. It doesn’t matter which party the state is run by – Democrat or Republican. It’s a non-partisan issue.the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Senate Speaker Robert Stivers (R-Manchester), the highest-ranking member of the chamber, is opposed to HB 606. Stivers would also be upset that the state’s powerful horse racing industry is pressuring for passing the bill since lawmakers had just agreed to the expanded game last year – the General Assembly approved the historic horse racing machines in February 2021.
“We sense no desire on the part of state lawmakers to expand gambling in this state for two years in a row,” said Martin Cothran, spokesperson for The Family Foundation, a conservative group that opposes the bill, in a statement last month. . “There’s just no feeling of getting into another ugly, divisive fight over gambling just a year after historic horse racing slots barely made it.”
HB 609, however, is likely to attract more support from conservatives. The bill calls for allocating $50 million from a $300 million settlement in a long-running legal battle with PokerStars to fund problem gambling initiatives.
Koenig tried to make inroads with the public. In a recent interview with WKYT-TVHe said when lawmakers first suggested legalizing sports betting three years ago, the state estimated it would generate $22.5 million a year in tax revenue.
“Given its popularity and the fact that [estimate] was three years ago, it was probably extraordinarily conservative,” Koenig said. “We have gone from four years ago, where you could only bet on sports in Nevada, to now 33 states and the District of Columbia [where sports betting is] legal. Thirty of these US states have active sports betting.
“It’s everywhere. It doesn’t matter what party the state is run by – Democrat or Republican. It’s a non-partisan issue.
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Committee approvals still needed
The bills are still in committee and are expected to gain approval from those panels before a third reading and subsequent vote in the Senate.
HB 606 is before the Senate Committee on Licensing and Professions, while HB 609 is under review by the Senate Committee on Appropriations and Revenue. Both committees met this week before the 10-day break, but neither was put to a vote.
Carla Montgomery, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, said USA gaming review that she could not foresee whether the committees would meet during the last two days of the session. If the committees do not meet or take any action, both bills will die.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is said to be supportive of expanded gambling and would likely sign both bills into law if they made it to his office. It could also convene a special session. Representatives for Beshear did not return messages seeking comment on whether he would call a special session.