Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is taking a proactive approach to address problem gambling as the state prepares to embark on its sports betting journey. Emergency regulations have been signed, establishing the Kentucky Problem Gambling Assistance account. This fund will offer much-needed resources to combat gambling-related issues and promote responsible gaming in the commonwealth.
The Problem Gambling Assistance Fund
The regulations outline the process for community service organizations and behavioral health professionals to apply for grants from the assistance account. The funds can then be utilized to provide problem gambling counseling, education, awareness programs, and even cover the costs associated with treatment and recovery efforts. The goal is to ensure that Kentuckians can enjoy sports betting responsibly, while also providing support to those who may experience problem gaming.
With an estimated $23 million in annual revenue expected from legal sports betting, 2.5% of that total, approximately $575,000, will be allocated to the Kentucky Problem Gambling Assistance account during its inaugural year. The funds will be administered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. A portion of this amount will be used to cover administrative costs, allowing the smooth operation of the assistance program.
The need for such initiatives is evident, as more than 100,000 adults in Kentucky have shown signs of problem gambling tendencies, while 45,000 Kentuckians struggle with gambling addiction. It’s an alarming situation considering the state’s adult population is just over 3 million, emphasizing the urgency to address this issue.
The existing resources to combat problem gambling are relatively limited, with just seven certified mental health professionals available to treat gambling disorders in the state. This highlights the significance of establishing a fund that will empower organizations and professionals to make a meaningful impact on individuals facing gambling-related challenges.
Launching the sports betting market in the state
Kentucky remains on track to launch sports betting on September 7, perfectly timed with the start of the NFL season. With nine sportsbook operator licenses available, linked to existing race tracks, the state is gearing up for an exciting era of sports wagering. Sportsbook applicants are required to pay a substantial upfront fee of $500,000 for a license, and revenues will be subject to taxes at rates of 9.75% for in-person bets and 14.25% for mobile sportsbooks.
Governor Beshear, a vocal supporter of sports betting, has even expressed his enthusiasm by stating that he will place the first bet once the sportsbooks are up and running. However, he remains committed to responsible gaming and recognizes the importance of supporting those who may face challenges related to gambling.
As the regulations governing the Kentucky Problem Gambling Assistance account are currently open to public comment until September 30, the state is ensuring that all voices are heard and that the measures implemented will best serve the community. The goal is to strike a balance between offering exciting sports betting opportunities while safeguarding the well-being of its residents.
Once the public comment process is complete, the emergency regulations will be replaced with permanent ones, further solidifying Kentucky’s commitment to addressing problem gambling in its pursuit of an enjoyable and responsible sports betting environment.
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