Kentucky unlikely to see sports gambling this year
By Bob Garcia
The state doesn’t seem to be thrilled with the idea of legalized sports gambling
An attempt to introduce a sports gambling bill to Kentucky last year never found a great deal of support, and there was always the possibility that 2021 would be a different story. However, even as many of its neighboring states are starting to launch their own sports gambling markets, Kentucky apparently doesn’t mind dragging its feet. Several key lawmakers explained this week that sports gambling wasn’t a priority and that it might not be for some time to come.
Kentucky lawmakers returned to work yesterday for a day before taking another break until Friday, and will then have a couple of weeks off before getting down to business. David Osborne, the Kentucky Speaker of the House, and Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers participated in an interview with Kentucky Education Television this week when the subject of sports gambling was raised. Osborne believes that there is too much money tied up in the state’s horse racing industry, and feels that this will take precedence over sports gambling. He explained, “[Horse racing facilities] are existing facilities that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Kentucky, and I think that because of that, it will probably take most of the focus initially away from sports betting. That doesn’t mean that there’s not support for sports betting amongst the members of the House, amongst the members of our caucus. It remains a bit of a divisive issue, certainly. There’s ongoing interest in discussions about it, but I do believe it will take a back seat initially to historical horse racing.”
Stivers holds a similar view, stating during the conversation, “I think the horse industry and individuals who are interested in the wellbeing of the horse industry need to focus on historic horse racing before they start thinking about sportsbook and gambling in that realm.” As the two politicians, both Republicans, have a great deal of control over what happens in their respective chambers, this is a good indication that, perhaps, 2021 won’t be the year the Bluegrass State sees sports gambling.