Kentucky’s Democrat Governor Andy Beshear has signed into law a bill that will legalize sports betting in the Bluegrass state.
House Bill 551 will make nine racetracks eligible to offer on-site retail sports betting, while each track will also be able to partner with up to three online operators, meaning up to 27 licenses may be issued by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC).
The bill also establishes a two-tier system to taxation, with online operators to be taxed at 14.25% of gross gambling revenue, compared to the 9.75% imposed on the retail offerings.
A license will cost a racetrack $500,000, and an online operator $50,000 to partner with.
However, there are no tribal provisions to HB 511, with neither of the state’s two tribes – the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky and the Ridgetop Shawnee Tribe of Indians –recognized by the US Department of Interior, and therefore qualify for a state gaming compact under the Federal enabling law for tribal gaming the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Beshear’s signature comes after lawmakers last week approved the legislation 26-12, with a 23-vote threshold for passage. The two-thirds majority requirement came as a result of state rules regarding revenue generating laws being passed in a session not devoted to the budget.
Confirmation of the bill’s signing came as Beshear on the same day also signed off on a bill legalizing medical marijuana. Both bills were signed on the day of the state’s legislation deadline of March 31.
“I have been pushing for medical cannabis and sports betting for years,” Beshear said in a Twitter post. “Today, I signed these two bills into law. Team Kentucky delivers, and we get results. Congrats, Kentucky.”