Kentucky Lawmaker Pressing To Legalize Sports Betting

In a state known for its college basketball prowess, a Kentucky lawmaker has launched a full-court press to legalize sports betting.

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State Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, is using social media to build support for his sports betting measure, House Bill 606.

The bill already has cleared the House, on a 58-30 vote, and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Legislation must be approved in both chambers before going to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for his approval. The governor supports sports betting.

Lawmakers are on recess until April 13-14, when they return to the statehouse in Frankfort to conclude the legislative session.

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Poll Indicates Kentuckians Want Sports Betting

With the clock ticking, Koenig is urging his more than 3,700 Twitter followers to “let your voice be heard.”

“It’s getting to crunch time,” he said in a tweet this week, adding it is important for people to “let your senator know your thoughts.”

The tweet include a results from a Public Opinion Strategies poll in February showing 58% of Republicans, 69% of Democrats and 81% of independents support sports betting in Kentucky.

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Bill Would Permit On-Site, Mobile Wagering

Under HB606, bettors could wager on collegiate and professional sports, including football, basketball and baseball, and on sanctioned events such as stock-car racing, table tennis and darts.

The bill would allow racetracks to partner with an interactive sports-betting operator to provide on-site and mobile sports betting.

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Online poker and fantasy sports betting also would be allowed.

Kentucky Chamber Supports The Bill

Koenig also is retweeting messages from others who support sports betting.

He recently retweeted a supportive statement from John Cox, the Kentucky Chamber’s public affairs director.

In his tweet, Cox said Kentucky can use the tax revenue being lost when residents wager in neighboring states where sports betting is legal.

Cox cited the recently concluded NCAA men’s basketball tournament as a lost betting opportunity.

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Though the Kentucky Wildcats did not make the Final Four this year, the team has a long tradition of basketball success.

“How many Kentuckians driving across the border today to Tennessee/Indiana/Illinois/Virginia/West Virginia to make bets on the Final Four?” Cox asked. “How many (are) calling their bookie?”

Sports Betting Faces Senate Obstacles

Despite the late push by supporters, the sports betting bill faces obstacles in the Senate.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he doubts the bill has enough support in the upper chamber to be approved.

Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, 30-8.

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