House Bill 137 does far more than the “Sports Wagering” phrase that bill supporters use to describe it – it’s a massive expansion!
Several things stand out as House Bill 137, the so-called “Sports Wagering” Bill, is discussed and debated:
First, HB 137 is not a constitutional amendment. A gambling attorney brought in from Florida testified that an amendment to the Constitution is not needed, but his testimony flies in the face of two Kentucky Attorneys General – Chris Gorman and Ben Chandler – and about 100 years of Kentucky jurisprudence. Skeptics simply point out that gambling advocates don’t have the 60 votes in the House and the 23 votes in the Senate to pass an amendment, hence, they claim out of necessity that they don’t need an amendment.
Secondly, according to Kent Ostrander, executive director of The Family Foundation, the 22 million dollars HB 137 is supposed to generate annually is a pittance. “Mathematically, it will take between 1,954 to 2,727 years to pay off the 43 to 60 billion dollar pension deficit,” said Ostrander. “And, if passed, it will probably be used to argue that the hundreds of ‘historical horse racing machines’ now in the state are legal.” If so, the work on HB 137 is just an attempt to moot the 9°-year court case that is now before the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Third, Republican leaders in the House have now been accused of pressuring other Republicans to vote for HB 137 against their will. Tactics like this will ultimately cause significant problems over time. Currently, Democrats generally support HB 137, while most Republicans in the House super-majority do not.