HB 551: How sports betting would affect gaming halls

HB 551 still needs some more votes to pass through the Senate, but it would legalize sports gambling in Kentucky if passed
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:57 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - In order to place a legal sports bet, Kentuckians would have to travel to neighboring states like Tennessee or Indiana to legally bet on sports. That could all change if House Bill 551 gets the necessary amount of votes in the Kentucky Senate.

However, HB 551 is still lingering in the balance. It has passed through a Senate Committee, but still needs 23 votes to be delivered to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk.

If legalized, sports books for sports betting would be placed in gaming halls across the state of Kentucky, like The Mint Gaming Hall in Bowling Green and Franklin. This is something John Wholihan, the director of Marketing at The Mint Gaming Hall, said would greatly benefit the gaming industry and The Mint itself.

“These things take time, but we are working on it. We do think it is a type of thing that would add an amenity and benefit,” said Wholihan. “It would legalize certainly - let’s not be afraid to say it - people making those types of bets anyway. It is a way of doing tax money the right way, being very systematic in what we are able to offer and doing things legally.”

Wholihan said, like the many other services The Mint has to offer, sports gambling would help draw more people into the gaming hall.

“We opened up a steakhouse in the last year. That is an amenity. It is not the main reason people come, but it might be for others. When you have three, four, or five different amenities to open, people find what they want to do. Whether it is gaming, eating, drinking, and now, maybe in the future, it could be sports betting,” said Wholihan.

Not only would HB 551 allow people to legally bet on sporting events, but it would prevent people from betting on offshore websites or driving to the closest state where it is already legal.

“If you sit in a town like Franklin, Kentucky, you see cars go over on the 31. Literally, just feet, not miles, and stop in a convenient parking lot, make their bet, turn around, and come back,” said Wholihan.

Governor Beshear has mentioned on multiple occasions that he will sign HB 551 into law if it passes through the Senate. That will likely be towards the end of the month when the session comes to a close.

For more information on HB 551 and the latest updates on its passage, click here