Bill would establish sports wagering division of KY Horse Racing Commission

Kentucky state capitol in Frankfort
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A bill in Kentucky would change the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and create both a dedicated department of sports wagering and a department of compliance.

Last year, the KHRC’s Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering handled the process of taking sports betting in the Commonwealth from legalization through to launch. While they were able to mobilize the industry during an extremely short window, Sen. Damon Thayer noted that the “size and scope” of the workload associated with the new gambling vertical necessitated the exapnsion.

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Michael Meredith put it simply.

“This is so that parimutuel wagering can focus on parimutuel wagering.”

KHRC Director Jamie Eads appeared alongside Meredith and Thayer at a Senate Licensing and Occupation Committee meeting on Tuesday. The bill already has the approval of the House, passing with an 84-2 vote, and advanced unanimously out of committee yesterday. HB281 is set to get its first reading on the Senate floor this week.

The KHRC did hire a Sports Wagering Director last summer. The candidate, Hans Stokke, came with experience in biometrics but no experience in the world of sports betting. He also left the organization in December.

Last year, Gov. Andy Beshear established the Kentucky Sports Betting Advisory Committee via executive order. The seven-person group of appointees similarly do not bring any sports betting experience to the table.

There are a couple of other bills related to gaming floating around the Kentucky legislature this session, including a proposal from Rep. Al Gentry which would require state horse racing tracks to implement a responsible gambling program.

Last year, Meredith said he would be open to crafting a piece of legislation that would draw funding for problem gambling from horse racing, the lottery and sports betting but he has yet to introduce any legislation in that vein this year.