FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Another expanded gambling bill - this one involving sports betting - is being proposed for the 2018 General Assembly as a way of shoring up Kentucky’s troubled public pension system.
The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, would allow sports wagering at any horse racing track or off-track betting facility.
Carroll said the proposal comes in the wake of the final report by the state’s pension consultant.
“When the PFM Group made their recommendations to cut pensions, it was my mission to find a new source of revenue for the ailing systems. The state has a moral and legal obligation to fund state pensions. Reducing the benefits of thousands of hard-working public servants is not an option.”
The proposal would rely on either the Supreme Court of the United States or Congress nullifying the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, commonly known as PASPA. It prohibits sports wagering nationwide while excluding a few states. However, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case from New Jersey challenging its constitutionality next month, with a ruling expected in the spring of next year.
“It is important that the General Assembly acts now to create regulations in anticipation of a ruling by the Supreme Court,” Carroll said. “If the Supreme Court strikes down PASPA, sports wagering will be legal in Kentucky despite this bill. This bill regulates an industry that I believe is coming to Kentucky. We should take advantage of this opportunity while safeguarding our citizens.”
The amount of revenue that could be realized due to sports betting in Kentucky is difficult to estimate. However, the American Gaming Association estimates that $4.7 billion ($4.5 billion illegally) was wagered on the Super Bowl alone this year, $36.5 billion ($35.4 illegally) will be bet on Major League Baseball this year and $10.4 billion ($10.1 billion illegally) was bet on the NCAA tournament in 2017.
Kentucky joins 10 other states to consider sports wagering legislation in the hopes of joining Mississippi and Connecticut who have already enacted similar legislation.