In this series, we’ll look at six states considered most likely to offer legal and regulated online poker over the next year. So far we’ve explored West Virginia and Connecticut, two states that have already regulated online poker – although there are still key steps to take before we can expect an operator to be put in place. line.
We now turn to the states that have yet to pass igaming legislation, starting with one that has tried – and only narrowly failed – to move forward with esports legislation and poker every year for the past three years.
Kentucky: A ruby-red state that, despite being home to the iconic Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, has proven tricky territory to grow the game.
But attitudes in the Bluegrass State may change. An attempt to legalize online poker and sports betting in Kentucky failed this year. And despite Kentucky’s conservative gravity, the state might be forced to expand online gambling anyway, as potential tax revenue would otherwise cross its borders into neighboring states — some of which also tend to be conservative. , but also seem to be okay with expanding the game.
Real money online poker in the United States is currently legal and operational in five states: Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Kentucky could be the sixth US state to offer online poker, but its availability will likely have to conform to the outlines of sports betting plans. If this were to pass, the state would have seven racetracks, which would likely be the land-based access points for online poker.
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Most Kentucky Neighbors Have Sportsbooks
Kentucky is not a gambling-friendly state. There are very few options available to Kentuckians who want to gamble – other than the state lottery, horse racing, and historic horse racing machines in a handful of sites.
Many Kentuckians would like it to stay that way. It is a socially conservative state, and voters there identify more with the Republican political brand than with the Democrats. With the approach of the mid-term elections, the G.O.P. held supermajorities in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly – enjoying a 75-25 advantage in the state House of Representatives and a 30-8 advantage in the state Senate. Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, leads the state.
Many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support expanding the games.
Proponents say Kentucky is missing an opportunity and almost all of its neighbors are taking advantage. Kentuckians cross state lines to gamble and give neighboring states tax revenue that would otherwise go to their home state.
Ohio is scheduled to launch sports betting on January 1, 2023. When it does, Kentucky will be surrounded by states that offer legal sports betting – Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia all offer it. The only exception is Missouri, which will consider sports betting in 2023.
For three years in a row, supportive lawmakers have tried to pass legislation legalizing sports betting. Curiously, Kentucky online poker – not online casino games – was in the game.
Previous Proposals for Online Poker in Kentucky
Lawmakers attempted to legalize online poker in the 2020, 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions. The bills under consideration in all three years were similar, but the 2020 and 2021 versions included a directive targeting US PokerStars.
The three bills – HB 137, HB 241 and HB 606, which were reviewed in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively – would have required online poker operators to pay the state $250,000 for a one-year license, renewable annually for $10,000. A tax rate of 6.75% would have been levied on online poker.
While none of the bills include a limit for the number of poker platforms that can be launched, it is assumed that all gaming facilities that could have launched sports betting – the state has seven racetracks – each would have been authorized to manage an online poker room. .
The three bills mentioned above died in committee.
Fans face headwinds in 2023
HB 606 fell just short of the votes it needed to pass in 2022. Online poker and sportsbook fans have vowed to try again in 2023.
Two peculiarities in the state constitution will make this difficult.
First, the state constitution requires the legislature to meet for 30 days in odd years rather than 60 days in even years — so supporters will have half the time they had in 2022 to convince their skeptical colleagues. to support the legislation.
Second, the constitution states that any legislation that would increase revenue (including a gaming expansion bill) must receive three-fifths of the support of both houses of the legislature. For the House of Representatives, that means getting 60 votes. More support will be needed since HB 606 only passed the House on a 58-30 vote.
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Horse Tracks would probably start poker
If proponents introduce a gambling expansion bill again in 2023, and if it passes this time around, there could be seven online poker rooms in Kentucky – one for each of the racetracks in Kentucky. state, also licensed to launch mobile and online sports betting. Previous legislation listed these land-based facilities as follows:
- Churchill Downs, Louisville
- Ellis Park, Henderson
- Keeneland, Lexington
- Kentucky Downs at Franklin
- Oak Grove, in Oak Grove
- The Red Mile, Lexington
- Turfway Park, Florence
Kentucky should also enact separate legislation to allow for cash sharing. It would probably require joining a multi-jurisdictional gaming pact like the Multi-State Internet Gambling Agreement (MSIGA) to give online poker a chance to succeed. Membership MSIGA is imperative, and Kentucky’s small population (4.5 million) makes it even more important.
Learn more about American Multistate Online Poker in our comprehensive guide.