Kentucky residents will have to wait at least another year before sports betting becomes legal throughout the Bluegrass State.
Heading into the year, Kentucky seemed like it was going to become one of the next few states to legalize. However, somewhere along the way, things went wrong for Indiana’s southern neighbor.
Kentucky’s legislative session is over now, meaning that the state will have to wait until 2021 to re-up on the idea.
What happened to Kentucky’s sports betting bill?
Rep. Adam Koenig’s House Bill 137 had the support that it needed to pass through the state’s legislature. The bill passed through committee and was ready to make its way through the House of Representatives earlier this year.
It only needed a simple majority to pass through the House, and Koenig had 60 of its 100 members supporting the bill at one point.
After the House, the state’s Senate would have needed to give the bill the green light. At the time, Sen. Majority Leader Damon Thayer was supporting the bill and believed that the Senate would pass it.
Gov. Andy Beshear even voiced his support for the bill shortly after taking office.
So with all of that support, what stopped the bill from becoming law?
Koenig believes that Republican-backed lobbying from the Family Foundation of Kentucky bogged up the process. He spoke with Legal Sports Report about what happened.
“The fact of the matter is we have plenty of votes but not enough Republican votes. I joined the Republican party of a more personal responsibility and less government intervention in our lives. There’s a lot of my fellow House members who believe in the government’s need to keep people from engaging in behaviors they find potentially harmful. That’s the antithesis of how I think.”
Leadership in the Senate wouldn’t call for a vote for the bill without the majority of Republicans in support of it.
Even with the number of votes it needed to pass, nothing could move forward without a vote actually being called. That stagnation effectively killed the bill.
What does the future hold for Kentucky sports betting?
Since things didn’t go as planned this year, Kentucky can always give things another go in 2021.
Koenig will certainly be looking to try again next year, especially since the bill was so close to legalization time around.
Sometimes it just takes an extra pass to get things done. That was certainly the case for Michigan, which legalized sports betting in December 2019 after the original bill was vetoed a year earlier.
Kentucky bettors will certainly be hoping that that ends up being the case for the Bluegrass State as well.
However, sports betting will be harder to push through the state next year.
In 2021, Koenig and company will need a three-fifths majority rather than a simple one to move a new bill through the House. In other words, the bill will need at least 60 out of the House’s 100 members to support it rather than the 51 it needed this year.
That might not end up being a problem down the line since the bill had so much support this time around, but it still presents one more hurdle to get over before sports betting could become legal in Kentucky.
Indiana’s other neighbors have made their own progress recently
A few of Indiana’s neighboring states had just finally got the ball rolling before COVID-19 stopped everything its tracks.
Michigan was rushing to open its sportsbooks in time for March Madness. A few of the casinos around the state managed to start taking bets before the shutdowns started. Although retail sportsbooks had opened, Michigan wasn’t expected to have online betting until 2021.
Illinois has found itself in a similar spot. Indiana’s western neighbor also started taking brick-and-mortar bets for the first time early on in March.
However, much like Michigan, the state doesn’t offer online betting yet. Illinois is waiting until 18 months after the start of retail betting to join the online party.
Ohio hasn’t had as much luck. The Buckeye State and Kentucky are the only two states neighboring Indiana that haven’t legalized sports betting yet.
Ohio’s legislature hasn’t been able to decide on key factors such as whether or not mobile betting and wagers on in-state collegiate athletics will be allowed.
COVID-19 will likely throw a wrench into some future progress at emergency legislative sessions since the pandemic obviously takes precedent over gambling.
It may be a while before Kentucky and Ohio have sports betting, but it’s likely coming at some point for both states.