Kentucky’s new sports-betting measure, House Bill 551, has been introduced for consideration, and as indicated by its backers, it has removed online poker and daily fantasy sports (DFS) from the gambling-expansion possibilities offered in a previously submitted, rival bill. GOP legislator Michael Meredith dropped HB 551 on Friday, confirming earlier reports that online-poker legalization is off the table in Kentucky for the time being.
In a written statement, Rep. Meredith assailed the perceived loss of gaming-related revenue from Kentuckians who are “placing bets today with illegal, unregulated offshore gaming entities, bookies, or by [legally] driving across state lines.” HB 551 in its initial form would assign regulatory duties for an opened sports-betting market to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Horse racing is the only form of sports-related wagering currently authorized in the Bluegrass State.
HB 551 faces a narrow path to passage, and Meredith affirmed that removing online poker and DFS from consideration ws the only possible path for his bill to receive the needed votes. “Again, taking out the online poker, taking out the fantasy — we did those to try appeal over on the other side,” he told Kentucky’s Lex18News, referring to the state’s Senate, where similar legislation has died in previous years.
The bill also faces heightened approval requirements in effect for Kentucky measures being considered in odd-numbered years. “I do feel really good about it,” Meredith added. “We picked up some votes in the Senate.”