Online Poker Regulation in Kentucky Delayed Until 2020


A bill to regulate online poker, sports betting and fantasy sports in the state of Kentucky looks like it’ll be scratched and won’t be in play until next year.

So said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Adam Koenig, regarding House Bill 175 that aims to expand gambling beyond horse racing, which is what the Bluegrass State is most known for. Despite garnering favor on both sides of the political aisle, as well as unanimous support from a House committee in February, HB 175 won’t make it to the winner’s circle in 2019.

Koenig’s proposal didn’t even make it to the home stretch, but the lawmaker is confident that his online poker, DFS, and sports betting measure will be better suited to making a run for the roses in 2020. In Kentucky, years that end in even numbers require only a simple majority of legislators to vote in favor of a bill, while 60% must vote in support of legislation in odd-numbered years when raising revenue is part of the package.

Resigning himself to the fact that HB 175 has likely run its course in the General Assembly’s current legislative session, Koenig told Insider Louisville:

A supermajority of votes was too high a bar to get in a short time period,

Supreme Court Puts Bill in Motion

HB 175 would have permitted the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to handle regulation concerning sports betting and Daily Fantasy Sports, while the Kentucky Lottery would hold the reins with regard to online poker. The impetus for the proposal was last May’s US Supreme Court decision that overturned the sports wagering ban (PASPA) that had been in effect for 25 years.

Koenig’s bill included language that would allow Kentucky residents to bet on a variety of sporting events at horse racing tracks, as well as the ability to download a mobile app and place wagers there. A $500,000 license fee would be imposed on the race tracks, with revenue taxed at 10.25%, while the tax rate on the app would be 14.25%.

Revenue Needed

The Keeneland track commissioned a study that found sports betting would likely bring in $20 million in revenue annually. Kentucky is experiencing a shortage in pension funding and much of the sports wagering revenue would be earmarked toward shoring up that deficit.

However, as is typically the case when the topic of gambling expansion is brought up, plenty of critics can be heard far and wide. The Family Foundation of Kentucky has voiced its concerns in that regard, citing the effects that additional legalized gambling would have on political corruption and those who become addicted to gambling.

Kentucky online poker players and sports bettors can now set their hopes on 2020 – a budget year for the Bluegrass State – for regulation to get greater consideration by lawmakers. Koenig is bullish on the prospect of his legislation passing in next year’s session, promising to “regroup and reload with a better plan” that will drum up enough support so that his proposal will finish in the money.