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Sen. Julian Carroll files bill to allow sports wagering at horse racing tracks, off-track wagering facilites

Kentucky residents may soon be able to wager on their favorite sports team. A bill filed today by Senator Julian M. Carroll, D-Frankfort, sets the framework to allow any horse racing track or off-track wagering facility to offer sports wagering.

The majority of revenue generated from sports wagering will be deposited into 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 towards horse racing development funds.

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frakfort (Photo from LRC)

“When the PFM Group made their recommendations to cut pensions it was my mission to find a new source of revenue for the ailing systems. The state has a moral and legal obligation to fund state pensions. Reducing the benefits of thousands of hard-working public servants is not an option,” Carroll said.

The sports wagering bill (BR 155) will be considered during the next regular session but will rely on the Supreme Court of the United States or Congress to nullify the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, commonly known as PASPA. PASPA, a federal law, prohibits sports wagering nationwide while excluding a few states. However, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case from New Jersey challenging its constitutionality next month, with a ruling expected in the spring of next year.

“It is important that the General Assembly acts now to create regulations in anticipation of a ruling by the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court strikes down PASPA, sports wagering will be legal in Kentucky despite this bill. This bill regulates an industry that I believe is coming to Kentucky. We should take advantage of this opportunity while safeguarding our citizens,” Carroll said.

While it is difficult to estimate how much revenue Kentucky can expect from sports wagering, the national estimates are astronomical. The American Gaming Association estimates that $4.7 billion ($4.5 illegally) was wagered on the Super Bowl alone this year, $36.5 billion ($35.4 illegally) will be bet on Major League Baseball this year, and $10.4 billion ($10.1 billion illegally) was bet on the NCAA tournament in 2017.

Kentucky joins 10 other states to consider sports wagering legislation in the hopes of joining Mississippi and Connecticut who have already enacted similar legislation.

From Legislative Research Commission

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