Sidelines with John Clay

As Kentucky waits, Indiana and Tennessee move closer to sports gambling

As Kentucky’s legislature delays and delays, competition from across the border has jumped into the action.

Indiana legislators approved a bill Wednesday that would legalize sports gambling in the state. The measure has been sent to Governor Eric Holcomb for his signature.

Sports betting could begin as early as this fall. If signed into law, any of the state’s casinos, racinos or satellite locations can apply to offer wagering on all but amateur or high school sports. People age 21 or older would be legally allowed to bet. Sports wagering would also be allowed on mobile devices.

Nevada, New Mexico, Mississippi, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Rhode Island all currently have active sports gambling. The Supreme Court last year struck down a federal law that prohibited sports gambling outside of Nevada.

In Kentucky, state representative Adam Koenig, a Republican from Erlanger, presented a bill to the House Committee on Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations that would legalize sports gambling in Kentucky. Koenig said the revenue from sports gambling could help the public pension shortfall in the state.

The bill did not receive enough support in the recently completed legislative session, but Koenig told US Bets that he was optimistic about next year.

“We will regroup and reload with a better plan to win the hearts and minds of the public next year,” Koenig said. “We will only need a simple majority, and it will be a budget year where that $20-$48 million (in tax revenue) will look a lot more important. I really like the chances next year.”

Meanwhile, south of the border, the Tennessee legislature has sent a bill to its state senate for consideration. The legislation calls for mobile sports betting platforms to be regulated by the state lottery. It’s not known whether Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will support the bill. During the governor’s race, Lee said he would “work with the legislature to make sure they didn’t approve it.”

Last September, Keeneland held a sports gambling symposium with representatives from the NBA, New Jersey, the NTRA, FanDuel/TVG and the state legislature, among others. At the forum, Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said that if sports gambling comes to the state it must benefit the horse industry.

“It’s not going to get past me if it doesn’t protect the horse racing industry,” he said.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader