FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Some Kentucky lawmakers will once again try to legalize sports betting.
Legislation to legalize sports wagering in Kentucky was unveiled Monday, part of a package of gambling-related bills.
Republican Rep. Adam Koenig said Monday that legalizing sports betting would “take it away from the bookies and the off-shore accounts and give people of Kentucky the ability to do what they would like to do with their own money.”
"We can either bury our heads in the sand and tell people they're not grown adults and they can't make these decisions, or, like I've said, we give them the opportunity to do so," said Koenig. "We tax it. We regulate it. And we make sure it's done above board and give people the protections from their government that they deserve."
Supporters of previous bills estimated that legalizing sports wagering would generate about $22 million in yearly revenue. They say the measure is needed to stop Kentuckians from flocking to neighboring states that allow sports betting.
However, the bill faces challenges. Similar sports wagering bills died in previous legislative sessions, reflecting the divisiveness of gambling issues in Kentucky.
The Family Foundation has opposed past sports wagering bills, saying "sports wagering is not constitutional in Kentucky." The group believes the "predatory gambling industry" will cause Kentucky families "social harms" if sports betting is legalized.
But supporters say this is about giving adults the ability to make their own choices.
"Are we going to let adults make adult decisions or not?" asked Koenig.
Another bill unveiled Monday would make changes to the tax structure on horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering. Another measure would ban so-called “gray machines,” which look like slot machines, and payout cash prizes to successful players. The machines have been spreading to convenience stores across the state.