LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It's the tweet on Super Bowl weekend that got a lot of Kentuckians paying attention.
Republican State Representative Jason Nemes said after doing legal research, he believes sports betting is not illegal in Kentucky. What does that mean as many lawmakers are trying to pass the measure here in the Bluegrass?
Nemes believes it could be a big problem, because under legal definition, sports betting is a game of skill, not chance, and that’s not currently outlawed in Kentucky.
Even more reason he says why lawmakers should pass House Bill 137 now. As big game bets went down in Southern Indiana, Kentucky lawmakers tweeted.
Governor Andy Beshear stated, “Kentuckians are crossing into Indiana to bet on the Super Bowl,” he continued, “we should pass sports betting to keep the money here.”
But it was Nemes’ tweet had people talking.
The republican stated, “I think sports betting is not illegal in Kentucky.”
After much legal research, Nemes said Kentucky may have outlawed gambling by definition as a game of chance, but not as a game of skill. And based on legal rulings in other states, sports betting is a game of skill.
Nemes, who represents House District 33, explained, “A lot of people if they can read the trends and they understand who’s playing and follow the news closely enough, which I don’t, but a lot of people do,” he continued, “then it becomes a game of skill.”
He contends if lawmakers don’t pass House Bill 137, “I think we’re going to have the wild west.”
Nemes also said sports betting entrepreneurs could get a court’s declaratory judgement, set up shop and pay just 6 % sales tax, not the higher rate under the bill, there would be no protections, and the state couldn’t regulate it.
One thing is certain, with March coming, people in a basketball state will put a lot of money down. Sports bettors in southern Indiana expect it to squash Super Bowl betting locally.
Family Foundation spokesman Martin Cothran isn’t betting on Nemes’ theory.
“Blackjack is based on skill, Baccarat is a skill,” Cothran said, “there’s skill in most casino games, but we don’t allow casino games and even the people who are pushing sports betting admit that expanded gambling and casino games are not constitutional.”
Cothran believes it’s a constitutional question, and if the legislature wants a constitutional amendment the people can decide the issue. Nemes says it would have the same issue getting through the legislature and Kentucky will stay in limbo instead of moving forward.
Nemes believes this is a rural-urban issue. The sports betting bill has bipartisan support by 34 of 36 lawmakers in Louisville, Lexington and northern Kentucky. He urges supporters in rural counties to call their lawmakers.