Kentucky Bill Would Legalize Poker as a Game of Skill

A new bill in Kentucky would legalize select card games including poker and blackjack by redefining them as games of skill. The law is part of a new wave of legislation in the state that seeks to circumvent conservatives resistant to casino gambling by legalizing the industry piece by piece.

Kentucky is one of the last remaining 11 states where casino gambling remains illegal. Kentucky gambling is limited to betting on horse racing and charitable games. Though various gambling expansions have been proposed over the years, they are consistently shot down by the state's traditionally conservative Senate.

One of the only gambling expansions to successfully slip through the Kentucky Senate was a recent bill that allowed racetracks to operate a specific kind of slot machine. Slot machines remain illegal in Kentucky, but the devices were approved by redefining them as "instant racing games."

Along the same grain, Representative Adam Koenig's new bill would redefine poker and blackjack as games of skill, and therefore not illegal gambling. The bill includes all varieties of poker and does not put a limit on the amount of money that can be wagered. The state currently has no card rooms, and it is not yet clear where poker would be allowed.

Koenig is part of a growing number of Kentucky lawmakers in favor of supplementing Kentucky's failing state pension program with gambling revenues. The first of these bills was introduced in December of last year and offered an all-in-one solution for state pensions through legal casinos. As of March, lawmakers have introduced two bills to legalize sports betting.

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