Kentucky Passes HB 551, Digital Movement in SC

Joe Berra

Here is our latest sports betting industry news roundup. Our topics are varied, kicking off with Kentucky passes HB 551 headlining the news. In addition, a bill made a monumental stride in North Carolina. Lastly, can South Carolina pick up the pace as Georgia falls short once again?

Kentucky Passes HB 551 – Will Join the Betting Industry

Sports betting is now legal in Kentucky after HB 551 made it through the state legislature. It went through on the last day of the state’s 2023 legislative session.

The Bluegrass State will now be a part of the growing sports gambling industry. Bettors residing there will no longer need to cross state lines to place wagers throughout the year. On a recent Thursday evening, Gov. Andy Beshear signed HB 551, a bill to legalize sports wagering, into law. 

This new law will take effect on June 28th. It was clear that the pressure was on the lawmakers in Kentucky. Neighboring states like Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and Illinois have all passed similar legislation.

As a result of the new law, bettors across the state will have access to up to 27 mobile sportsbooks. Each of the books will be partnered with a horse racing track in the state. Each of the nine race tracks will also be permitted to host a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at their specific location.

The adjusted gross revenue tax rate will be set at 14.25 percent. Fans of the Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals, and other programs will be permitted to place bets on their teams. Unlike most jurisdictions in the industry that require bettors to be 21, Kentucky will have a minimum age of 18.

Esports and other special events like the Olympics are markets that will be available. The state will use the revenue for education, infrastructure, and improving communities all across the state. 

Legislation in NC Making Headway

After just falling short in last year’s legislative session, lawmakers in the Tar Heel State needed a game plan to gain more support in each of the state chambers. In the House chamber, the legislation passed 64-45 on its final vote, sending it to the Senate.

A similar bill failed in the previous legislative session. It failed because the initiative prohibited consumers from placing bets on in-state collegiate programs. The state is home to sports programs at Duke, UNC, Wake Forest, NC State, and others.

In retrospect, Gov. Roy Cooper has been an advocate for the sports betting launch in the state since the previous failed attempt. To make his case clear, he incorporated an online sports wagering budget plan this year. According to his plan, the business will generate $85 million in tax revenue, and 10-12 licenses will be approved by the commission.

Out of 17 proposed amendments during the session, eight were quickly overruled by a large margin. Most of the ones that ran out of steam revolved around the tax rate, licensing fees, promotional credits, and regulatory fines.

Retail sports betting is already legal in the Tar Heel State because two tribal locations located in the Western part of the state have been taking bets. However, the mobile sports gambling push will allow more access. That means bettors won’t have to travel outside of the state’s borders to place bets.

Georgia Just Has No Luck as the Push is Postponed 

Legislators in the Peach State wanted to establish a sports betting study committee, but that will be of no use as the session came to a halt on Thursday. The Senate chamber adjourned without casting a vote on HB 237.

The advocates and opposers didn’t have ample time to iron out their differences.  One side believed that a state amendment would have been required. On the other side of the aisle, many believed that the Georgia Lottery may be able to legalize sports betting, according to some supporters.

Before the next legislative session rolls around, both sides need to establish what is the best course of action moving forward. According to the writing of the initiative, 16 mobile sports betting licenses would have been available in the state. Without the need for a constitutional amendment, the tax rate would have been set at 22 percent.

South Carolina Bill Makes It Through Subcommittee 

In the Palmetto State, lawmakers passed the first legal sports wagering bill Thursday after the House Ways and Means Revenue Policy Subcommittee amended it. The bill will proceed to the full Ways and Means Committee. This closely mirrors as Kentucky passes HB 551.

HB 3749 would allow only mobile wagering and tie some licenses to NASCAR’s Darlington Raceway as well as the state’s PGA Tour stops. According to its sponsor, Rep. Christopher Murphy, eight mobile sports betting licenses will be available. Bettors will be able to bet on in-state college teams such as Clemson and South Carolina.

The adjusted gross revenue tax rate will be set at 10 percent, which will be one of the lowest in the industry. The age limit will also be set at 18, much like Kentucky and different than the traditional age of 21.

While Kentucky Passes HB 551 Other States Scramble

The sports betting market model in South Carolina will be similar to Tennessee as the Volunteer State only offers online sports wagering. The digital sports betting route is starting to become more common. Wyoming took the same route. 

Vermont is one of the last states in its region to not host a legalized sports gambling market. The Green Mountain State is leaning towards that alternative. Despite Georgia falling short yet again, the SEC region is picking up the pace after staying stagnant for years.

If operators fail to obtain a license, they would be refunded the $50,000 application fee. A license fee of $450,000 would be charged to those approved. To win a license in South Carolina, the bookmakers that want to conduct business in the state must be accepting bets in at least five other states.

The bill would create a new commission to oversee the betting market. The South Carolina Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 11. The crossover date for legislation is April 10, so the House has less than two weeks to pass the bill and send it to the Senate.

About the Author
Joe Berra
Joe Berra
Sports Writer
Content Covered on SportsHub: Blog and News
Click to Contact
Joe takes care of the bits and pieces that sometimes slip through the cracks of the sports world. Efficiency and consistency is what makes different. JB helps keep Sports Hub’s content fresh and exciting, managing its many authors. From the New York area, Joe knew he had a knack for sports betting when his uncle was always asking him which side he was on as a young boy. His meticulous approach to the numbers formed his career path as a professional handicapper. Joe is sometimes called Jimmy Bagpipes, JB or Mr. B.