American Gambling Awards Finalists: Policymaker of the Year

Date IconLast Updated : Sep 19th, 2023
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American Gambling Awards Finalists: Policymaker of the Year
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The American Gambling Awards celebrate the outstanding work of the companies, organizations, executives and influencers working to responsibly grow the regulated online American casino and sports betting markets.

Leading up to the awards ceremony in November, is profiling the finalists.

Here are the finalists for Policymaker of the Year.

Sen. Damon Thayer and Rep. Michael Lee Meredith, Kentucky

Last March, Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Meredith, R-Brownsville, were the quarterbacks in getting legislation that legalized sports betting passed at the Kentucky Legislature. After the governor signed it into law, in-person betting began at brick-and-mortar sites on Sept. 7, with mobile set to launch Sept. 28.

Meredith took over the fight in the lower chamber after former advocate Adam Koenig didn’t win re-election last fall. Thayer is a major advocate of Kentucky’s horse industry and understood the positive impact legalized sports betting will have on state revenue. 

Sen. Dan Houx, Missouri

It’s been a tough battle, and they’re still not there yet, but Houx, R-Warrensburg, has remained steadfast in attempting to get legalized sports betting to the people of Missouri.

He wrote the main Missouri betting proposal, but it stalled in the upper chamber during the senator's most recent effort to win approval. Pro sports teams in the state, Missouri casino companies and national sportsbooks have all backed the senator's play. Legislative efforts will start over in 2024 when lawmakers next meet in Jefferson City.

Sen. Eric Lesser, Massachusetts

Lesser, D-Longmeadow, was one of six members of a joint House-Senate committee that wrote the sports betting bill in Massachusetts. Legalized retail and online sports wagering launched in the state earlier this year.

Lesser, who has stepped down from the Senate and is working for a Boston-based law firm, was key in getting the bill to the governor’s desk. As he said, legal sports betting opens up a whole new industry for the state, leading to job creation and innovation. 

Sen. Jim Perry and Rep. Jason Saine, North Carolina

Next year, bettors in North Carolina will be able to participate legally in commercial mobile sports betting, after a bill became law last June.

Perry, R-Lenoir, and Saine, R-Lincoln, were key players in making that happen this year, after lawmakers previously rejected the proposal. Saine pushed  for passage in the House of Representatives, while Perry shepherded it through in the Senate. Legal online sports betting won’t be available in the state until at least Jan. 8, 2024.