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Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Does Not Require Constitutional Amendment According to Lawyer

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It seems like 2020 could be the year that legalized gambling reaches the Blue Grass state. First, the appointment of Andy Beshear, who is pro-gambling expansion, as Governor, was a big first step. Now according to a constitutional lawyer, the sports wagering bill (BR 364) does not require a constitutional amendment.

Lawyer Claims that Constitution Does Not Specifically Include Sports Betting

Constitutional lawyer Daniel Wallach confirmed that the sports wagering will not require a change to the state's constitution. His argument was that the original writers of the state's constitution specifically decided not to include sports betting when they banned lotteries. What this means is lawmakers could legalize sports betting without needing approval from voters.

"The framers considered a ban on sports betting, and they rejected it." Wallach said. "Thus, there is no constitutional barrier to the legalization of sports betting in the commonwealth in Kentucky." For supporters of legalized sports betting in Kentucky, this is the best possible news. Obviously not having to put it to a vote means that it has a much better chance of passing.

Adam Koenig Thinks Bill Could See Action Soon

Bill 364, prefilled by Republican Adam Koenig would give the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission the authority to regulate sports betting. Tracks that are licensed by the Horse Racing Commission would be eligible to offer sports betting, the same as any professional sports venue that can seat up to 50K people.

This new bill is similar to one that Koenig filed last year which passed the House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee. The problem is, it did not receive a floor vote in the House because of legislative rules that require 60 votes to pass fiscal legislation in odd-numbered years. Fiscal bills during the legislative sessions in even-numbered years require just a simple majority vote from both chambers. The reason for this is that lawmakers pass the biennial budget in even-numbered years.

Bill 364 Still Faces Opposition in Kentucky

Not everybody in Kentucky is on board and The Family Foundation of Kentucky, remain firmly opposed to legalized sports gambling. They feel like expanded gaming means that the state would be profiting from the losses of its own residents. Attorney Stan Cave spoke in regard to the assessment made by Daniel Wallach concerning the Kentucky constitution that was written in the 1890s. "The plain language in Section 226 of the Kentucky Constitution, an opinion of the highest court in Kentucky at the time and two attorney general opinions make clear that a constitutional amendment is required to legalize sports wagering of the types being considered," said Cave. "While I professionally respect the proponents of Florida lawyer's differing opinion, he may not be thoroughly versed in Kentucky law," he was quoted as saying.

In-Person Registration Is Still Required

The one problem with BR 364 is the in-person registration requirement. As has been discussed with regards to other states joining the legal sports betting market, in-person registration has proven to be a big-time stumbling block that could potentially cost the state millions in lost revenue. When looking at the states that have the highest handle in the country, it is obvious that mobile/online betting is a big part of the reason why.

It has also been proven in states like Rhode Island and Iowa, that in-person registration can and will hinder the overall numbers. These customers are more likely to choose black market options because of their convenience.