Daniel Desrochers has been the political reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader since 2016. He previously worked for the Charleston Gazette-Mail in Charleston, West Virginia. Support my work with a digital subscription
Two-time Daytona 500 winner added language to allow sports betting is hitting the gas pedal on the effort to legalize sports betting in Kentucky.
The Kentucky native and NASCAR star has endorsed the effort in a radio ad by Sports Betting Now, a political group working to help build public support for sports betting legislation.
âThe truth is, our commonwealth is falling behind neighboring states on sports betting,â Waltrip says in the ad. âTheyâve acted. We havenât. That means millions of dollars in revenue that could be going to our state pensions â well, itâs going across state lines.â
Kentucky Speedway is one of the few sites in Kentucky that would be allowed to host in-person sports betting should House Bill 137 pass. It would limit in-person betting to the speedway and horse racing tracks and the state would get 10.25 percent of the cut. The track would also get first dibs on online betting, as the bill requires people to register at Kentucky Speedway or the horse racing tracks to be able to bet online.
Lawmakers are tasked with writing a two-year budget this session and the sports betting bill is seen as a way to generate needed revenue. The bill is estimated to bring in $22.5 million.
The bill passed unanimously through a House committee Wednesday and is currently waiting for a vote in the House of Representatives. The bill also has the support of Gov. Andy Beshear, which the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, says could be a key factor in helping it pass.
But the bill could hit some problems in the Senate, where Senate President Robert Stivers said he thinks the bill goes beyond just allowing sports betting because it allows people to make bets online.
âI heard and saw reports about it,â said Stivers, R-Manchester. âI then looked at the bill and found it a little unusual because most people look at it as betting on a basketball, baseball or football game â some athletic event. But when I read the bill I found it far more extensive. Itâs almost like Internet casinos with fantasy sports betting, all types on online poker.â
Koenig also added language to allow sports betting on sports teams at in-state public colleges and universities, saying there were complaints that he left out in-state colleges in his version of the bill last year.
âIf youâve got five wagers you want to make over the weekend and one of them is on an instate college team and youâve got to do four legally and one illegally, you might just make all five illegally,â Koenig said.
Several groups have endorsed the bill, including Commerce Lexington, VisitLex, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Education Association.
Herald-Leader reporter Jack Brammer contributed reporting