Online Poker Included In Kentucky Sports Betting Legislation

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on January 6, 2023 - Last Updated on April 29, 2023
a new House bill hopes to legalize online Kentucky gambling

Gambling in Kentucky is far from regulated but the topic has been of growing interest across the country over the last several years.

The Bluegrass State seems to be slowly moving towards legalization. The legislature’s latest attempt at gaming expansion included online poker and sports betting.

Past efforts to regulate online poker and Kentucky sports betting have not been successful, but House Bill 106 is looking to give it another go.

Details of House Bill 106

House Bill 106 (HB106) looks to legalize online gambling in Kentucky in many forms. This includes online sports betting and online poker.

According to the legislation, online poker has been defined as:

“Any form of poker, including but not limited to Five Card Draw, Seven Card Stud, and Texas Hold’em via the Internet through the use of computers, smartphones, or other types of electronic devices.”

It also strictly states that online poker does not include any video lottery terminals (VLTs) or slot machines that represent poker in any form.

The software would require geolocation to ensure all patrons play poker within state lines. There would also be age verification in place to ensure players are over the age of 18 to place bets legally.

Fees and taxes

For a company to operate an online poker room they would be required to:

  • Pay an initial licensing fee of $250,000 to the state
  • Pay 6.75% of net revenue from online poker operations

It is not clear where online poker tax revenue will go, but percentages given by Kentucky Horse Racing could be a guideline. Tax revenue from gambling in the Kentucky horse racing industry goes towards covering regulatory costs, combating problem gambling and then to the state public pension system.

Support for legal online gambling in Kentucky includes Gov. Beshear

Kentucky is considered one of the country’s least gambling-friendly states. Given that, there is still some support from members of the legislature.

Gov. Andy Beshear has shown his support for the regulation of gambling and has included it in his Democratic campaigns.

The sponsors behind HB106 include:

  • Rep. Derrick Graham
  • Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson
  • Rep. Chad Aull
  • Rep. George Brown Jr.
  • Rep. Al Gentry
  • Rep. Josie Raymond
  • Rep. Rachel Roberts

Religious groups in Kentucky strongly against any form of gambling

On the flip side, many are opposed to legalizing gambling in Kentucky. This includes strong opposition from religious groups and leaders.

In an interview with Kentucky Today, Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Gray expressed that he believes gambling breaks up families. “Kentucky already struggles with drug addiction, and it is immoral for the state to encourage another form of addiction – sports betting.”

Some of the reasons Gray gave for opposing this bill include costs such as “increased crime, bankruptcy, family disintegration, and additional government services.”

Photo by PlayKentucky
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