Turn of Events: Kentucky’s General Assembly Overrides Gov. Beshear’s Regulatory Gaming Veto

Kentucky’s new regulatory body will oversee sports betting, pari-mutuel wagering, live horse racing, more.

Apr 15, 2024 • 17:32 ET • 4 min read
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New sports betting and horse racing regulation is coming to the Bluegrass State via corporation, whether Gov. Andy Beshear likes it or not. 

Kentucky’s Republican-led General Assembly overrode two dozen of Beshear’s vetos on Friday, including one about gaming. 

Senate Bill 299, which called for the creation of an independent corporation called the Kentucky Horse Racing and Gaming Commission, was vetoed by Beshear. 

However, the Senate voted 26-12 to overturn the governor’s decision before sending it to the House, which agreed by a vote of 57-38 to make SB 299 a law. 

This act dissolves the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Department of Charitable Gaming which was part of the Bluegrass State’s Cabinet for Public Protection. 

An ‘unworkable’ bill

SB 299 was introduced on Feb. 27, passed by Senate on March 26, made it through the House and delivered to the governor’s desk on March 28. 

It was then vetoed on April 9 before being reversed by the General Assembly on the next-to-last day of the 2024 legislative session. 

Beshear called SB 299 “unnecessary and unworkable.” He wrote in a veto message that he was against the bill because “unintended consequences would tremendously affect horse racing, sports wagering and charitable gaming industries and the ability of people to serve on the newly-created corporation.” 

Beshear preferred SB 281, which was signed into law last month and would’ve kept all gaming regulations in the cabinet but would’ve split up horse racing and sports betting into separate divisions. 

Under new control

Kentucky’s new regulatory body will oversee sports betting, pari-mutuel wagering, live horse racing, breed development and integrity, licensing and investigations, and charitable gaming. 

The Kentucky Horse Racing and Gaming Commission will do more than act as a political subdivision. As a corporation, it will also generate profits.

The new regulatory body made up of 15 board members will begin operating on July 1 and must transition employees from the old Horse Racing Commission to the new corporation by that date. The charitable division will come under the new commission’s umbrella next summer.  

Cabinet produces results

The governor believes Kentucky sports betting would not have launched in September, three months ahead of the legislature’s timeline and in time for college football and the NFL seasons, without the Public Protection Cabinet’s “efforts.”

The first three months of online wagering produced $900 million in handle and $15 million in tax revenue for the state, Beshear wrote.

He added that more than $34 million was wagered on the first weekend of the NCAA men’s tournament and more than $17 million on the Super Bowl. 

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