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New Kentucky Governor Calls On Lawmakers To Pass Internet Gambling Bill

Rep. Adam Koenig's Bill Passed The House Licensing, Occupations And Administrative Committee With Unanimous Support


Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear hasn’t even been in office for two full months and is already calling for the state legislature to pass online gambling legislation.

The Democrat defeated the anti-gambling Republican incumbent Matt Bevin last November in an election where he campaigned on passing gambling expansion in the state to fund its insolvent pension system. Bevin, on the other hand, was a staunch opponent of the gambling industry and made the claim that suicides happen on a nightly basis in casinos.

Early in his first term as governor, Beshear is proving that he truly is an ally of gambling advocates. An online gambling bill passed a House committee in mid-January and local media is reporting that Beshear is already calling on lawmakers to pass the bill.

A budget crisis is looming over the state. While some in government are worried it would lead to a reduction in services or jobs, Beshear looks at the gambling industry as an untapped source of government funding.

“We have sources of revenue here in Kentucky that we have not authorized,” Beshear said. “That if you drive just a mile over the river, Ohio and then Indiana are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars a year through casino gaming that Kentucky simply doesn’t get. We’ve got up to $500 million of potential revenue out there where all we have to do is say Ohio is doing it; Indiana is doing it. It’s time that Kentucky does it.”

Rep. Adam Koenig pre-filed a bill in mid-December that would legalize online poker, sports betting and fantasy sports contests, despite comments made the prior month that he would only target sports betting legalization.

That eventually became HB 137, which passed the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Committee with unanimous support. The bill is now in the hands of the House Rules Committee, which will decide when the bill is ready for a full vote of the house.

Koenig authored similar legislation last year, with a completely different political landscape, it never made it out of the house. This year, however, most reports say that the bill will have the votes to move on to the Senate.