Senator Damon Thayer Issues Statement on Senate’s Sports Gaming Approval

FRANKFORT, KY (March 30, 2023) — The following is a statement from Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer upon the Senate’s approval of House Bill 551, sports betting legislation sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith and carried in the Senate by Thayer:

“I am so pleased my Senate colleagues approved Rep. Meredith’s legislation,” Thayer said. “I want to congratulate him for carrying on the good work of our good friend, Adam Koenig, and I was honored to carry the bill in the Senate. Sports betting is something I have wanted for Kentucky for a long time because I view it as an extension of our time-honored tradition of betting on horse races. I look forward to Kentuckians being able to place their wagers right here in the commonwealth instead of traveling across state lines to spend their money in other states. This is a great day for the commonwealth and its people. Freedom won the day.”

Kentucky is one of 17 states where sports betting is prohibited and unregulated. Missouri is the lone exception to Kentucky’s surrounding states that allow some form of sports betting. 

House Bill 551 cleared the Senate 25-12, receiving the required two-thirds vote necessary in a non-budget session to approve a revenue-creating measure. The bill is similar to last year’s House Bill 606, sponsored by former state Representative Adam Koenig. The measure would legalize, regulate and tax sports wagering in Kentucky—all under the authority of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Only licensed tracks would be permitted to obtain a sports wagering license. 

Notably, net proceeds would be earmarked for the permanent pension fund in the General Fund. Estimates say sports wagering could generate approximately $23 million per year.

House Bill 551 now moves to the Governor for consideration. The measure would take effect 90 days after its filing with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office. Find the bill in full by clicking THIS LINK.