Governor Beshear Puts Pressure On Lawmakers To Pass Sports Betting

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Andy Beshear is putting more pressure on lawmakers to pass sports wagering.

House Bill 137, sponsored by state Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, would create regulations in Kentucky for sports betting, fantasy sports betting and online poker.

Beshear and Koenig spoke with business and education leaders Thursday to promote the bill and encourage other lawmakers to support it.

Beshear believes it will generate $14 million in the first year, and once it gets going in earnest, it will generate $22-$25 million each year. HB 137 dedicates that revenue to pensions.

“Some people will say that’s not going to solve the pension system, and sure, on its own, nothing is going to solve the pension system,” Beshear said. “But those are meaningful dollars where we can meet so many needs of our people.”

Beshear said he’s tired of seeing neighboring states receive money from bets Kentuckians made, including Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman. Beshear showed a betting slip he said was a $5 bet Coleman made in September on former University of Louisville and current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to win MVP. When Jackson won the award Saturday, she won $95 dollars from a sportsbook in Indiana.

“But guess who has the ticket in their hands right now?” Beshear said jokingly.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Ashli Watts echoed Beshear’s thoughts, saying sports betting will create jobs in Kentucky similar to the horse racing industry. So what is the hold up in the House?

“We learn a lot of things, and I’ve heard these stories from when the Lottery was passed 32 years ago, the people who are against it are very, very loud,” Koenig said. “And it’s hard to motivate the people who are for it or ambivalent one way or the other but would like to see the revenue, to contact their legislators.”

Koenig said the votes are there in the House to pass sports wagering, but leaders aren’t going to call it for a vote until they get overwhelming support.

“I support that strategy and fully understand it,” Beshear said. “We are just a third of the way through the session. We want to get this passed all the way and through the Senate. I agree that it would pass today, but adding support is always a good thing.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer told Kentucky Today the bill has the votes to pass in the Senate, but it needs Democratic support as well.

When asked about if the nine Senate Democrats would vote for it, Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, said, “I’d bet on it.”