FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – Sports betting is moving even closer to a vote to send the bill to Gov. Andy Beshear, however, it will be on a razor-thin margin for the bill to get the support it needs to pass. 

House Bill 551 passed the House on Monday and on Wednesday the Senate passed the bill out of committee.

“There’s over a billion dollars bet illegally right now, and we know there’s a significant amount of the marketplace that is just going across the state line across the river to place their wagers as well,” Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) told lawmakers on the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee.

Meredith’s bill to legalize sports betting cleared a committee hurdle on a 9 to 1 vote that till now has stopped the issue from moving forward. Last year’s sports betting bill, HB 606, was assigned to multiple Senate committees after passing the House, but it never got a hearing.

“Online poker has been taken out. They’ve added 2.5t from problem gaming, which I think is important to all of us. And they’ve taken out the 12-month in-person sign-up, and we’re talking $23 million in tax revenue for something that our constituents all want,” Rep. Matthew Koch (R-Paris) said.

The legislation has changed several times in hopes of getting Senate support, a smaller chamber with less room for “no” votes. If it’s called to the floor, the vote will be close.

“The 23-vote threshold required during a short session is a big hurdle. If we only required 20 votes like in a 60-day session, I think we could pass it. But getting to 23 votes is going to be a challenge,” Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) told reporters following the meeting.


Lawmakers that favor the bill, like Thayer, said they can’t argue with the moral convictions some of their colleagues have. Especially after another difficult gambling issue has already been sent to the governor’s desk.

“After just voting to ban gray machines because of very legitimate concerns about every gas station in this Commonwealth being turned into a mini-casino, I certainly hope this honorable body will not vote to turn around and turn every iPhone in Kentucky into a digital casino that kids will have access to,” David Walls, Executive Director of The Family Foundation, told lawmakers.

The question left is when HB 551 will come for a vote. Thayer said the bill will get readings Wednesday and Thursday, but then there’s a veto break. Two weeks from now lawmakers will be back in Frankfort with only two days left to take that final reading and vote. Supporters said that timeout is when citizens should call lawmakers to push for a vote on the bill.