FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18)– Can online gambling help Kentucky’s underfunded pension system? That’s a question lawmakers are thinking about as they consider a bill that could legalize online bets.
“This is something that is not new. It was commonly done, and it’s possible that I may have engaged in it before it was made illegal by the federal government in 2006,” said Rep. Adam Koenig.
If House Bill 175 passes, online betting could be legal in Kentucky. If it’s legal, that means the state can tax it. That new tax money can then help pay for part of Kentucky’s pension system.
Right now, lawmakers think legalizing online gaming could bring anywhere from 20-48 million dollars. That amount is not nearly enough to fix the pension deficit, which is more than 40 billion dollars underfunded, but some pension groups believe its a start.
“Every little bit helps. We do have a large pension debt. It’s due over decades, so if we make gradual payments year after year and make sure the employer contribution is enough to fund the system, then we will pay that debt down,” said Jim Carroll with Kentucky Government Retirees.
Not everyone is for this bill.
“A lot of what the gambling industry does is bait and switch. They will use words that are commonly understood and then define them in a statute or regulation differently than what you think that they mean,” said Steve Cave with the Family Foundation of Kentucky.