Why Kentucky Ought to Legalize Sports activities Betting, Half II: The 2023 Election

Posted on: February 4, 2023, 02:10h. 

Final up to date on: February 4, 2023, 06:25h.

NOTE: That is the second in a sequence of items I’m writing stating my case for why Kentucky must legalize sports activities betting. You’ll be able to learn my first piece right here.

When the controversy over legalizing sports activities betting within the Kentucky Normal Meeting picks up later this month, it’s possible you’ll hear some folks say they wish to see it occur, however that now’s not the fitting time.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (left, middle) prepares to provide his State of the Commonwealth deal with to the Kentucky Normal Meeting final month on the State Capitol. Beshear is a supporter of sports activities betting who’s operating for reelection this yr. (Picture: On line casino.org)

They may say that Republicans, who management each chambers within the state legislature, don’t want handy Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, a legislative victory in a yr he’s searching for re-election.

These folks could be improper. Right here’s why.

Election Nonetheless A number of Months Away

Let’s begin in 2019. At the moment, only a yr after The Skilled and Novice Sports activities Safety Act of 1992 (PASPA) resolution within the US Supreme Court docket, then-Kentucky Lawyer Normal Beshear was the Democratic nominee for governor, dealing with then-Gov. Matt Bevin. It was a bitter election that was determined by simply 5,136 votes out of the greater than 1.4 million ballots solid.

A key plank in Beshear’s marketing campaign platform was a name for expanded gaming within the state. That ran counter to Bevin, a Republican who wasn’t notably well-liked in his social gathering, and who steadily spoke in opposition to legalizing sports activities betting and casinos. Whereas there have been a few different points, Beshear’s place on gaming did inspire some voters to go to the polls for him, so it was a pivotal difficulty resulting in his slender victory.

Would signing a sports activities betting invoice into legislation permit Beshear to take a victory lap? Barring one thing surprising, the reply could be sure. However that victory lap would probably occur some seven months earlier than the November election.

Lots can occur politically in seven months. Final yr, throughout that period of time, we went from what was anticipated to be a Republican romp in nationwide elections to the Democrats successful the US Senate and almost holding on to the US Home.

Beshear would nonetheless tout sports activities betting on the marketing campaign path. Nonetheless, its affect could be muted as voters, particularly Republican voters, who picked Beshear 4 years in the past due to his views on the topic would want to search out one more reason to vote for him. Democrats and perhaps Independents in all probability would stick with him. However Republicans, who make up the state’s largest political social gathering, probably would gravitate again to their candidate – particularly because it was a Republican majority within the legislature that handed the invoice.

GOP Candidate Backing Gaming Isn’t a Positive Wager

And talking of the Republican gubernatorial candidate, we don’t know who that’s but. We received’t till the Might main, which happens some six weeks after the Normal Meeting session ends. That’s one more reason why GOP lawmakers ought to think about passing sports activities betting on this session.

There are 12 candidates within the Republican main, however in all probability not more than 4 or 5 who’ve viable photographs of successful the nomination. Nevertheless, there isn’t any runoff provision within the main, which suggests the successful candidate may end with perhaps 30% of the vote.

A survey final yr discovered that 58% of Kentucky Republicans help sports activities betting. Whereas that’s excellent news for supporters, that additionally means there’s sufficient opposition on the market that would coalesce round a candidate who touts socially conservative stances on points like gaming. That might assist that candidate Win the nomination.

I’ve coated Kentucky politics and authorities for greater than 20 years, and I’ve seen how a lot of an affect the Household Basis of Kentucky and its supporters can have on races in Kentucky.

In 2015, I used to be in Morehead protecting Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her refusal to difficulty marriage licenses to same-sex {couples}. There have been massive and vocal demonstrations each for and in opposition to her, and the day the clerk’s workplace lastly started issuing licenses, I noticed supporters of Davis take handfuls of voter registration playing cards. They stated they deliberate to begin registration drives, and it was one of many the explanation why Bevin ended up successful the governor’s race that yr.

Beshear is a well-liked governor. However as I discussed earlier, there’s nonetheless a very long time till the election, and whoever finally ends up because the Republican candidate can have a considerable marketing campaign backing them up and making an attempt to take among the shine off the present governor.

And in addition do not forget that Beshear barely received regardless of dealing with an unpopular incumbent. His reelection shouldn’t be a certainty. An anti-gaming candidate may nonetheless Win in November, and if sports activities betting doesn’t make it by way of the legislature this yr, that can affect its probabilities of passing over the following 4 years.

Passing sports activities betting on this session will get the topic off the desk and avoids that risk.



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