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Governor urges lawmakers to pass sports betting bill in Kentucky

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has called on state lawmakers to pass sports betting legislation to stop revenue from flowing to neighboring states.

The governor was joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the Capitol on Thursday to urge lawmakers to pass HB 137, which would legalize sports betting at horserace tracks and the Kentucky Speedway, as well as authorize mobile betting.

The bill, which would also authorize fantasy sports and online poker, passed the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee in January by a vote of 18-0, highlighting broad bipartisan support for the measure.

“We have a real urgency in Kentucky. We need new revenue to support the needs of our communities, our state and especially our children who deserve the best education,” said Governor Beshear. “We have an urgency to keep millions of Kentucky dollars from crossing our rivers and going to support the education and pension systems in our neighboring states.

“We are with business, education and pension leaders – Republicans and Democrats – working together on the same team. We all agree that passing sports betting is the right thing to do and we are working together to help move the state forward.”

Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman said: “Sports wagering provides much needed revenue and has bipartisan support in the legislature. Passing this bill is a way we can all work together to support public education and provide Kentucky’s students and teachers the resources they need to cultivate the workforce of the future.”

State Representative Adam Koenig added: “This is a common sense proposal with broad support that would allow adults to legally engage in sports bets as entertainment.

“We know that Kentuckians are already gambling on sports, let’s make a move that allows us to regulate it and generate revenue for the state without raising taxes.”

Currently, sports betting is legal in 20 US states, including Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, West Virginia, Mississippi and Arkansas.

“Like it or not, residents from every community in the Commonwealth are already betting on sports, either illegally through bookies or online, or legally across our border,” said State Representative Al Gentry. “Regulating and taxing it in Kentucky helps us minimize illegal activity and generate revenues that allow us to help those with addiction problems and contribute millions to our pension liabilities. It helps us retain millions in discretionary spending dollars by our residents within our borders.”

Representatives from the State Fraternal Order of Police, firefighters, property valuation administrators, Kentucky Travel Industry Association, meetNKY, Commerce Lexington and the NKY Chamber also attended Thursday in support.

“As the voice of Kentucky’s business community, passing sports wagering in 2020 is a no-brainer,” said Ashli Watts, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “Not only will it make us more competitive with our surrounding states who have enacted it, but it will also put much needed revenue in our state budget to help fund our state’s public pension system. 

“Sports wagering is a win-win for Kentucky – it’s good for business, good for taxpayers and we encourage the legislature to take action this General Assembly.”

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