KY Lawmaker: Next Sports Betting Bill Won’t Have Online Poker, Most Likely

In an exclusive interview, Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) says he may need to drop online poker from his sports betting bill in order to win passage in the General Assembly.
Horses in the fields on a farm in Lexington, Kentucky
By
January 24, 2023

We would probably pick up a few votes by not having online poker in the bill. A lawmaker in Kentucky said he is working on a bill that would legalize online sports betting in the state but warned that it will probably not include a provision also to allow online poker.

Rep. Michael Meredith (R-Oakland), who serves as chair of the House Banking & Insurance Committee, told Poker Industry PRO in an exclusive interview last week that he hopes to have a bill ready by February 7, the day the Kentucky General Assembly resumes its 30-day session for 2023.

“It’s likely at this point that online poker will not be in the bill,” Meredith said on January 18. “It seems that we would probably pick up a few votes by not having online poker in the bill.

“Frankly, Kentucky has never been a state that’s on the forefront of gaming issues. If we want to be successful in sports wagering, I don’t know that involving online poker is advantageous to the effort.”

$1000 Risk-free bet for new bettors
$1000 Risk-free
on first real money wager*

*except PA & NY

Last verified: Jan 2023
  • Big risk-free welcome offer
  • Some of the best promos
  • Variety of betting markets

Ex-Lawmaker Was Driving Force for Poker

If Meredith ultimately excludes online poker from his bill, it will mark a break from three previous efforts to enact online sports betting — all of which also had online poker along for the ride.

Previous efforts to legalize online sports betting and poker were led by Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger) in the legislative sessions for 2020, 2021, and 2022.

After Koenig lost his primary last year, Meredith — a co-sponsor of the previous effort, HB 606, during the 2022 session — assumed the mantle of being the key Republican House member to support iGaming in Kentucky.

Meredith said Koenig “has been an outstanding leader on this” and added that he would support another bill by Koenig if he were still in office and the bill included online poker.

“But it seems like there’s not nearly as much energy around [online poker] as there is around the sports wagering space — especially now that Rep. Koenig isn’t there,” Meredith said. “That was kind of an issue that was really more personal to him than it seemed to be overall to the other folks who were working on the bill.”

Bill Needs 60 House Votes

Supporters of Meredith’s bill — or of a rival proposal put forward by three House Democrats that mirror Koenig’s last effort — will need 60 votes to win passage in the state House of Representatives.

HB 606 received 58 votes in the House last year, but a quirk in the state constitution requires three-fifths support during odd-numbered years, meaning any bill needs 60 votes to pass.

Meredith sounded confident that the votes would be there for his bill.

“We are pretty close to 60,” he said. “If you look at the numbers of the 58 that passed it last time, we’ve got 30 or 31 returning [Republican] members who supported the bill. I think we will have enough of our new members who were elected in the last election to get us up into the 40s.

“I don’t want to speak for [the Democrats], but they have generally been more supportive of gaming than we have been as a party. They have 20 members in their caucus — I would expect that we will get most of them once we’re able to share the draft with them. I feel pretty good about being right around that 60 number, if not a little above.”

$50 no deposit credits + $2000 match bonus
$50 Free Cash
$25 no deposit bonus & $25 after depositing
& $2000 match bonus
Last verified: Jan 2023
  • $50 no deposit required
  • Big match bonus up to $2000
  • Interesting promotions

Moves by Indiana, Ohio Having an Effect

We can make a strong case that it makes sense for Kentucky to be at least able to take in some revenue from what people are already doing and to make sure that it’s regulated in a proper manner. Meredith added that recent developments in neighboring Indiana and Ohio may have moved the needle with lawmakers previously skeptical about allowing online sports betting in Kentucky.

A lawmaker in Indiana — which has had legal online sports betting since September 2019 — has introduced a bill to legalize online casino gaming and poker by September 1, 2023. Meanwhile, the Ohio online sports betting market kicked off on January 1 and had an incredibly successful two-day opening.

“[Indiana and Ohio] are going to be part of the discussion that I have when I’m discussing this bill with other members and when I’m presenting the bill in committee at a later time,” Meredith said.

“At this point, with the access already there, I think we can make a strong case that it makes sense for Kentucky to be at least able to take in some revenue from what people are already doing and to make sure that it’s regulated in a proper manner.”

Keep reading: