Kentucky running out of time to approve sports gambling


Kentucky is obviously in no rush to approve, or reject, sports gambling legislation. It was the middle of January when the state’s House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee approved House Bill 137 (HB 137), but, since then, not much movement has been seen, except possibly by the cleaning staff dusting the furniture.  That approval took place when the session was just starting to get underway, and lawmakers had renewed energy from the break.  It appears they have already run out of juice in their batteries, as almost no one seems to be ready to force the issue.  With just a month to go before legislators get another break, it’s time to light a fire.kentucky-running-out-of-time-to-approve-sports-gambling

Kentucky’s newly-appointed governor, Andy Beshear, is completely behind sports gambling, which should make lawmakers’ work easier.  They don’t have to worry about spending time on a bill that might ultimately get vetoed at the top, as has been seen in other states.  Still, The House of Representatives has been in session for 44 days now, and doesn’t seem to be any closer to putting the bill to a full floor vote.  It has to do so by April 1 if HB 137 is to find approval this year.

Once a bill is approved by the Kentucky House, there is a ten-day veto period allowed.  After this, provided no objections are entered, the bill moves to the General Assembly, which, since it’s going on break on April 15, will have only two days to respond to any vetoes or pass the legislation.  Two days is, in reality, just one, since the last day is spent making plans on where lawmakers are going to go fishing and vacationing with the family.

Representative Adam Koenig, who sponsored the bill along with 40 other legislators, remains optimistic that HB 137 will be greenlighted in time. Last week, the House passed a state budget that was then presented to the Senate, which will not only take it under advisement, but will also formulate its own plan.  Koenig explained to that, when legislators become frazzled over the lack of revenue to cover expenses, they might be more willing to sign off on the bill.  He asserted to the media outlet, “When the Senate comes up with a budget, which will be at least somewhat different than ours and they have different priorities, and when everyone’s looking to figure out how everyone can get what they want and an extra $45 million in the budget might help that.”

If Kentucky lawmakers can’t move in time, they’ll have no one to blame for themselves as neighboring states like Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia begin to steal away sports gamblers and their money.  All of those are already offering or are preparing to offer legalizing sportsbooks, and the Bluegrass State is going to miss out.