The legalization of sports betting in Kentucky will be an uphill climb after its primary champion was defeated in the November elections.
Steven Doan defeated Rep. Adam Koenig, an eight-term incumbent from Northern Kentucky, in a Republican primary. Koenig is the chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations committee and has been the lead proponent of a bill to legalize, regulate and tax online gambling in Kentucky.
With Koenig’s defeat, lawmakers remain divided on what to do next regarding the issue.
GOP leaders at a cross-road on Kentucky online gambling
GOP leaders remained mute when speaking on a panel for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Preview Conference in Lexington.
House Speaker David Osborne said sports betting discussion will continue but who will lead them remains a mystery.
“I don’t know if a champion as such has come to the front, but it’s going to be an issue that continues to get discussion.”
However, Senate President Robert Stivers hinted that sports betting might not be an issue worth watching in 2023. “If it was such as winning issue I don’t think Adam Koenig would have lost,” Stivers said.
Once Ohio sports betting launches in January, six of the seven states that border Kentucky will have some form of legal online gambling, with Missouri being the exception.
- Ohio (Jan. 1, 2023)
- West Virginia
- Missouri (pending)
Will sports betting be an issue in 2023?
Earlier this year, a study conducted by the Public Opinion Strategies for Kentucky Sports Betting Now, found nearly two-thirds of Kentuckians support legalizing sports betting.
Public Opinion Strategies (POS) surveyed 500 registered voters finding that 65% supported sports betting compared to 26% opposed it.
Further analysis of the survey concluded:
- 69% of Democrats endorse sports betting
- 58% of Republicans endorse sports betting
- 81% of Independents endorse sports betting
Without a definitive leader, the legalization of sports betting and Kentucky online gambling may remain in limbo.