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Kentucky Delays the Legalization of Online Poker and Sports Betting


It appears that residents of Kentucky will have to wait until 2020 to play poker and bet sports online for real money. The Blue Grass State was poised to become the fifth state to fully legalize multiple forms of online gambling until a bill stalled in the legislature.

HB.175 initially garnered enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle. It was first introduced in early February and amassed 21 sponsors. The Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear was on board despite the efforts of his father, a former Kentucky governor, to prosecute PokerStars and other online gambling operators for illegally doing business in the state.

There is optimism that lawmakers will try once again in 2020 to push the bill through. Lawmakers have acknowledged that the legalization of online poker and online casino websites could provide much-needed revenues for Kentucky. The state is currently trying to resolve a funding problem for its state pensions.

Beshear stepped out of his role as attorney general to approach the legalization of online gambling from an economic perspective. He reminded lawmakers that the revenues generated from online gaming would be preferable to raising taxes on the state's residents. 

The encouragement of Beshear also hinted that the state's ranking law enforcement official would not take the hardline stance of his father, former Governor Steve Beshear. Although Beshear no longer serves as governor, his legacy of attacks on online poker remain.

Many individuals in the online gambling industry are watching the developments in Kentucky with great interest. The state has a long history of opposition to gambling. Seeing online casinos legalized in Kentucky could be a bellwether for future US legislation in other states. Some even believe that online gambling moving forward in Kentucky could be an indicator that the federal green light for online casinos and poker in all 50 states is forthcoming. 

For now, the residents of Kentucky will have to play a waiting game as lawmakers work to find a bill that will receive the necessary support.

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