LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky state lawmaker said, odds are, that betting on sports is already legal in Kentucky.
Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, who is an attorney, told WDRB News he is convinced neither the constitution nor Kentucky statutes cover sports betting.
"Replete in the definition of gambling in our statutes is 'game of chance,' game of chance,'" Nemes said. "Well, I believe, and I know a lot our sister states have found, that sports betting is not game of chance. It's a game of skill."
In short, Nemes believes that, unlike games of chance such as slot machines and roulette, sports betting is technically not gambling in Kentucky.
"I think our courts would find that sports betting is a game of skill and that it's not covered under our statutes," he said.
But opponents of sports betting point to a section of the state constitution that forbids "lotteries" and "schemes for similar purposes."
"Even the term 'lotteries' meant any kind of game that involved chance," said Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation of Kentucky.
Cothran does not buy Nemes' argument that sports betting is a game of skill.
"There's skill involved in sports betting, but what you're betting on is the chance," Cothran said. "That's precisely what you're betting. It's all you can have odds for is a chance. I mean there's skill involved in pinball, but the courts have struck down betting on pinball."
Nemes said it would be up to the courts to decide the issue.
"I'm not saying it's a slam dunk,” he said. “I think there's a good argument on both sides."
Nemes encourages his fellow lawmakers not to leave the issue to chance.
"Let's not leave it to the courts to decide," he said. "Let's not have the Wild West."
He wants the General Assembly to move on HB 137, the sports betting bill he has co-sponsored.
"Let's pass the sports betting bill to bring regulation, bring taxation to the bill and fix the industry and set it up for our people." Nemes said.
HB 137 unanimously passed the House Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee on Jan. 15, but there has been no final vote yet on the House floor.
The Family Foundation has said even the bill's passage would not be enough to legalize sports betting, arguing that it requires a constitutional amendment.
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