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Bipartisan panel formed to craft Kentucky’s sports wagering legislation in wake of Supreme Court ruling

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A bipartisan House and Senate panel has been formed to craft legislation to allow sports wagering in Kentucky.

A decision last month by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow states to decide their own fate of sports betting means, for the first time since 1992, wagering on sports will not be limited to only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

Lawmakers are forming a panel to study legislation on sports wagering in Kentucky. (Photo from Kentucky Today)

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville; Rep. John Sims, D-Flemingsburg; Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, announced the formation of a bipartisan, nine-member panel – six from the House and three from the Senate – to draft and file legislation to implement legal sports betting in Kentucky.

In addition to those four lawmakers, others on the panel are Reps. Diane St. Onge, R-Fort Wright; Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill; George Brown, D-Lexington, and Dean Schamore, D-Hardinsburg, along with Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, who proposed sports wagering legislation for the 2019 General Assembly late last week.

The panel members, who together represent about 20 of Kentucky’s 120 counties, will file companion bills for each chamber that reflect a new revenue stream, estimated to be an additional $5.5 million to nearly $26 million per year pumped into Kentucky’s coffers.

The panel is expected to focus legislation toward professional sports, and possibly some limited instances of college sports; while banning wagering on high school or below level sports.

Not everyone is celebrating such legislation. Frankfort attorney Tom Troth, a legislative agent for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has said he’s troubled by the U.S. Supreme Court decision because of the financial hardship and lack of opportunities for families that gambling creates.

“Gambling is predatory, and those who gamble will inevitably lose the hard-earned funds that they can ill afford to wager on sports teams or any other form of gambling activity,” Troth said. “According to information provided by Stop Predatory Gambling, ‘the American people lost $117 billion on state-sanctioned gambling in 2016, causing life-changing financial losses for millions of citizens.’ The problem of predatory gambling will be made far worse if sports gambling parlors are allowed to operate in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

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