Sponsor makes changes to sports wagering bill

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The sponsor of legislation for the 2019 General Assembly to allow and regulate sports wagering in Kentucky has changed his bill to include a new independent agency to oversee the industry.


Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, is proposing the bill for next year’s session in June, which assigned regulation to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.


However, the new version, Bill Request 320, would create the Kentucky Gaming Commission as an independent agency with nine members appointed by the governor and attached to the Public Protection Cabinet for administrative purposes.  The Commission would be tasked with promulgating administrative regulations and issuing licenses for sports wagering.


The legislation would grant a license to the Kentucky Lottery Corporation, allows sports wagering at horse race tracks upon application while allowing others to apply. The bill creates a 25 percent tax rate on net sports wagering receipts. 


The distribution of revenue generated from sports wagering remains the same as the original bill, with the majority to the Kentucky Employees Retirement Systems Non-Hazardous and Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement Systems proportionally. The Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship will also benefit, with the remaining going toward horse racing development funds.


“Kentucky continues to lose funding our schools and public employees desperately need, while our residents remain vulnerable to an unregulated sports wagering market,” Carroll said. “The Sports Gaming Working Group, created earlier this year, and other committees have heard testimony from many stakeholders over the interim. This legislation reflects many bipartisan changes to my original bill that will result in increased revenues and more appropriate regulations to protect the public.”


Sports gambling brings its own set of troubles, said Dr. Paul Chitwood, executive director and treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.


“Gambling, legally or illegally, has benefited none of Kentucky’s families or children but has delivered huge payouts in pain,” he said. “What family or community is stronger or healthier because of gambling? Are there more vexing issues we have to face than sports betting? Of course. But if you’re asking me had I rather be bitten by a Black Widow or a Brown Recluse, my answer is neither.”


State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, has said he favors the concept.  “We should expand gaming and allow sports betting to come to Kentucky,” he said. “We already have pari-mutuel wagering on horses, and I think this is the next step and it’s appropriate to do that.”


Nemes said Kentucky can learn from other’s mistakes in how to regulate it. “There are things that we are going to need to do to make sure we don’t have a Wild West in gaming,” he said.

Nemes said he will craft legislation for the 2019 General Assembly.


Jim Carroll, the president of Kentucky Government Retirees, said it “provides badly needed funding for public pensions” and urged lawmakers to “pass a bill that earmarks sports wagering for pensions.”


Similar legislation was introduced by Sen. Carroll in the 2018 General Assembly as Senate Bill 22, but received no action, as a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on sports wagering wasn’t handed down until after lawmakers adjourned.  


The 2019 General Assembly begins January 8.

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