FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Supporters of legalizing sports betting in Kentucky mounted a late-session push Wednesday, winning initial bipartisan backing as the measure cleared a House committee.
The bill has more hurdles to clear in the fast-paced final days of the 2022 legislative session. Similar measures died in prior years, reflecting the divisiveness of gambling issues in the Bluegrass State.
But a leading supporter, Republican Rep. Adam Koenig, sounded hopeful Wednesday that the outcome for the long-running effort to legalize sports wagering could be different this year.
“I think we’re in position, hopefully, to have better luck going forward,” he told the committee.
The bill cleared the House committee on the 49th day of this year’s 60-day session. It still needs to win approval in the full House and in the Senate.
The measure would regulate an activity that already exists, Koenig said, pointing to estimates that millions of dollars are wagered illegally on sports every year in Kentucky.
“I think it’s important to bring those people out of the shadows, to dry up the black market,” he said.
The bill drew opposition from The Family Foundation, a conservative group opposed to expanded gambling. David Walls, the foundation’s executive director, said the sports wagering measure was an example of “bad government and bad policy.”
“This type of predatory gambling is designed to prey on human weakness, with the government colluding with the gambling industry to exploit our fellow Kentuckians,” he said.