LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The Kentucky General Assembly has adjourned for the year.
The busy session saw a lot accomplished, but a last-gasp hope to pass a bill legalizing sports betting in the Commonwealth failed to gain the support of the Senate.
“There are people that certainly agree with me that gambling is a tax on the poor,” Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Crofton) told FOX 56.
Westerfield said there are several parts of the bill he believes needed a fix. He filed 17-floor amendments to change or remove things he said are inconsistent or “industry-supplied” language.
“I’m going to be opposed to it regardless, but again if you’re going to support the bill, read it, don’t just vote because you’re okay with the concept,” Westerfield said.
But lawmakers never had a chance to vote on HB 606, because it never passed committee. The gambling bill was reassigned Wednesday from Licensing and Operations to Economic Development. Committee chair Sen. Wil Schroder said he was on standby from leadership to call a meeting.
“Right now we still need votes, both in the committee to get it and then both here on the floor as well,” Schroder said.
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When asked why not just bring the bill for a vote and let it be voted down in committee Schroder explained that’s not the typical process in Frankfort and bills are not often called in committee if they know it doesn’t have the votes and partially to not embarrass the bill’s sponsor.
“I get the frustration, I know people would rather see it voted, but that’s just not how we’ve operated,” Schroder said.
“When 60, 70, 80, 90 percent of Kentuckians are in favor of something, it’s time we move forward with it. Sports betting is in every one of our other states. You know, border states and they’re all save one lead by Republican legislatures,” Gov. Andy Beshear said during a Team Kentucky update Thursday.
“This is a bill that hurts people who are poor and preys on their hope that they’re going to strike it rich. They’re not all upper-middle-class folks paying out money for entertainment value – some people are doing it because they want to get rich and I don’t think we should make our ends meet that way,” Westerfield said.
Westerfield said he hopes the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, incorporates some of his amendments in a new version of the bill, but if one is filed, Kentuckians won’t see it until the 2023 legislative session.