Legalized sports betting likely to benefit businesses like Kentucky Downs

FRANKLIN, Ky. – After the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal law last year that banned sports betting, several states have looked into fully legalizing the practice, including Kentucky.

Seven states have already taken the necessary steps to legalize sports wagering, and the Bluegrass state could be the next name on that list.

Kentucky House bill 175 is aiming to expand the state’s stance on wagering, which currently only allows betting at horse racing tracks. That limitation would be lifted if this bill passes, but only if the proposal receives at least 60 votes in the House and 23 in the Senate.

“This is something that is not new,” said Republican state Rep. Adam Koenig. “It was commonly done, and it’s possible I might have engaged in it.”

Koenig is the bill’s primary sponsor pushing for its passage. According to an analysis of this proposal, legalizing sports betting could potentially generate $20 million in tax money, funds that could be used towards addressing the state pension system’s ongoing issues.

Kentucky Attorney General and democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear has been a big supporter of legalizing wagering, precisely for the findings from the aforementioned analysis.

“The way to address the pension crisis is an additional stream of revenue dedicated solely to that pension system,” Beshear said during a visit to Western Kentucky University in the summer. “We should start with expanded gaming.”

The bill has the potential to impact horse racing tracks across the state, just like Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Kentucky.

But according to Ted Nicholson, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Kentucky Downs, this legislation would lead to a greater influx of visitors through their doors.

“It would be an added product or amenity on the menu,” Nicholson said. “I think it would have added value because it’d be bringing in added foot traffic. This would just be another product to offer our guests.”

House bill 175 would, however, ban individuals from placing bets on any sporting event involving a team from a Kentucky university or college. Professional sporting events, and events involving schools outside of the Commonwealth, would be allowed, though.