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Kentucky Files Online Poker And Sports Betting Legislation

HB 175 Would Legalize Online Poker And Sports Betting In Kentucky, Despite The State's Anti-Gaming History

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Kentucky doesn’t have a single casino within its borders, but it may soon have online poker and sports betting if state lawmakers get their way.

Last week, Republican Rep. Adam Koenig, along with 14 other sponsors, introduced HB 175, which would legalize both sports betting and online poker in the state.

Like some other states that have enacted gambling legislation, the state’s lottery commission would act as the regulatory body for the industry. Under the proposed legislation, poker would be allowed for players who are 18 or older, and any revenue from online poker would be taxed at 6.75 percent.

On the sports betting side of the bill, the tax rate would be slightly higher, at 10.25 percent for in-person sports wagers and 14.25 percent on revenue from online betting. Operators would need to apply for a sports betting license, which would cost $1 million.

Kentucky joins New York and West Virginia as states with pending online poker legislation, and the countless states with sports betting legislation in the works. Pennsylvania passed online poker legislation in 2017 but has yet to implement it.

Kentucky tried to pass similar legislation in the past but was unsuccessful. The state has a long history with a staunch anti-gambling stance and has taken legal avenues against online gaming providers well before Black Friday, including an attempt to seize online poker domain names in 2008.

The state filed a civil action lawsuit against Bwin.party digital entertainment in 2010 after the online poker provider pulled out of the United States following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006. In 2013, the state settled for a $15 million payment from the gaming giant.

Kentucky is also still in a legal battle with The Stars Group after bringing an $870 million lawsuit against the world’s largest poker site in 2010 for operating in their state after the law was passed.

Despite it’s anti-online poker history, it has been legal to bet on horse racing in Kentucky since 1783 when the state carved out an exemption for lotteries and horse racing in the state’s constitution.