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How the Supreme Court’s Decision Affects Kentucky Sports Betting

On May 14, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which essentially banned commercial sports betting in all states except for Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and Nevada. The four states mentioned were exempt from the 1992 law because PASPA did not apply to states in which sports betting was already legal. Yet, despite the erasure of PASPA, states still reserve the right to determine the legality of sports betting; Monday’s decision merely shifted the decision regarding legality from the federal level to the state level.

Here is the status of sports betting in Kentucky and how the Supreme Court’s decision has impacted the practice.

Although sports betting is still illegal in Kentucky, legislation is in the works to decriminalize the activity due to the decision of the Supreme Court. In addition, because of the state’s history of allowing bets on horse racing, it is highly conceivable that legalization of all sports in Kentucky will come in the near future.

Even prior to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, betting on horse racing in Kentucky has been legal. Because horse racing has been viewed as a form of competition that is traditionally different from sports that have major organized leagues, it has not been regulated under sports betting statutes. Most notably, the casinos in Kentucky showcase the commonwealth’s point of emphasis on horse racing. In Kentucky casinos, instant racing betting machines have entirely taken the place of conventional slot machines. Though the machines appear to be regular slot machines, the spinning reels are solely for entertainment purposes and have no effect on the amount of money won or lost. Instead, the machines offer a player the ability to place bets on previous horse races.

Therefore, despite the long-standing federal ban, a form of sports betting has been legal in Kentucky for quite some time. In fact, the state’s history of horse racing could be the catalyst that state lawmakers will utilize for outright legalizing betting on all sports.

After Monday’s momentous action, several state lawmakers have indicated their resolve to push forward bills that will legalize sports betting in Kentucky. In particular, many are targeting the Kentucky General Assembly that will convene this upcoming January as the ultimate moment to push their platform.

Whether or not sports betting will be completely legalized in Kentucky remains to be seen. However, given the state’s tradition of betting on horse racing and the plans of many lawmakers to push forward bills on legalization, it seems likely that Kentucky will legalize the practice in the near future.

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