Just before the Kentucky State Legislature was to adjourn Thursday evening, House Bill 551–legislation to legalize, regulate and tax sports betting in the Commonwealth of Kentucky that seemed a longshot as late as Thursday morning–passed the Kentucky State Senate by a vote of 25-12. Governor Andy Beshear was to sign the legislation, which required 23 votes in favor, into law Friday morning.
“After years of urging lawmakers to legalize sports betting, we finally did it!” Beshear tweeted Thursday evening. “Today's result shows that hard work pays off. Kentuckians will soon be able to place their bets here, and for the first time, we are going to keep those dollars to support our roads and bridges, schools and communities.”
According to a report in the Louisville Courier Journal, the Kentucky Speedway and the state's horse racing tracks could pay a fee to operate as sports betting facilities, with bets allowed on site as well as on licensed websites and phone apps. Wagers placed at tracks would have an excise tax of 9.75%and online wagers 14.25%.
Early Thursday, it appeared that HB 551 was going to be short of the 23 required votes, but according to the Courier Journal, the bill was placed on the orders of the day and was on the House floor half an hour later.
The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) issued a statement applauding the passage of the bill, which reads, in part:
“KEEP and Kentucky's horse industry have been actively involved for the past several years in advocating for sports wagering legislation that protects the role of Kentucky's signature industry in the landscape of wagering options and provides new revenue for the state.
HB 551 accomplishes this by allowing for sports wagering to be offered in-person at Kentucky's racetracks. Additionally, sports wagering will be governed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, a testament to the trust that wagerers place in Kentucky's horse industry.
Overall, this bill will benefit Kentucky's horse industry and community by offering new revenue sources for the industry, as well as attracting new fans to the sport through the in-person experiences at Kentucky racetracks.”
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