As part of HB551, the bill that legalized sports betting in Kentucky, a measure was included that required 2.5% of the tax dollars generated from sports betting to fund problem gambling support efforts.
On Thursday, Gov. Andy Beshear signed the emergency regulations setting up the Kentucky Problem Gambling Assistance account. The regulations set out standards for which groups can apply for funding and what kinds of programs can be launched.
The law required the secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, a role currently occupied by Eric Friedlander, to stand up regulations related to the problem gambling fund. The regulations put forth allow for behavioral health professionals or services to petition the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental, and Intellectual Disabilities for RG funds.
Those seeking funds will need to provide a means to evaluate the efficacy of their programs, document the number of individuals served, and provide detailed quarterly reports on spending and scope. Interested professionals would also need accreditation from a cabinet-approved organization on the matter. In addition to 15 hours of problem-gambling-related training and an additional 50 hours of experience in the field.
The list of qualified professionals to address problem gambling issues will, in turn, be available on the DBHD website.
Bill sponsor Rep. Michael Meredith predicted the legalization of sports betting would bring in $23-$24 million a year in revenue for the state. At the 2.5% rate, that would equate to around $585,000 in funds available for applicants annually.
However, when the bill was moving through Frankfort, Meredith also noted that problem gambling is not an issue that should squarely fall on the shoulders of sports betting operators. He hinted that in 2024 there could be a more comprehensive responsible gambling bill that also includes the state lottery as well as the horse racing industry.