It was a long and difficult road to get sports betting legalized in the state as it looked as if this would happen much earlier. Some key points kept lawmakers from passing a bill, but eventually, a deal was reached.
Kentucky joined the Midwest portion of the United States which is loaded with sports betting markets. There are also some huge markets in this part of the country. However, Kentucky is not expected to become one of the leaders.
Kentucky should have plenty of success right away with sports betting, as the launch will coincide with the start of the 2023 NFL season. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulates this new industry, including online and retail sports betting options.
History Behind Sports Betting Legalization
Kentucky discussed legalizing sports betting in 2017 before the federal ban on sports betting was lifted. That bill was similar to the final bill that was passed, but it wasn’t seriously considered.
After the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018, Kentucky lawmakers created a group to study sports betting. That group argued that this should be done in the state. However, Governor Matt Blevin was not in favor of legalization.
Four sports betting bills were introduced in 2019, but most were shot down quickly. 2020 looked like the year that Kentucky would ultimately get a law in place as new Governor Andy Beshear was in full support of this industry.
Lawmakers worked up to April 15 to pass a sports betting law, but they just ran out of time. A similar fate met sports betting bills in 2021, despite Governor Beshear urging lawmakers to do something.
Sports betting gained some traction in 2022. While the House of Representatives was ready to move forward, this wasn’t the case in the Senate. It started to look as if sports betting would never get legalized in the state.
Things moved quickly in early 2023 and both chambers of the state legislature finally were on the same page. In March, the Senate announced an approved sports betting bill. It went into effect on June 28, 2023.
Financial Projections for Kentucky Sports Betting
By launching during the 2023 NFL season, Kentucky is expected to put up some solid sports betting numbers right away. Other states that have done a similar thing with their launch have all gotten off to record-setting starts in this industry.
The state of Kentucky has placed a 14.25% tax on online sports betting revenue, and a 9.75% tax on all in-person revenue. Those tax rates are right around the national average and should allow the state to bring in a significant amount of revenue.
It’s hard to predict just how successful the sports betting market in the state of Kentucky will be, but there have been some projections made. The Midwest part of the country has put up some solid sports betting numbers. However, Kentucky is also going to face some stiff competition.
The initial projections have the state of Kentucky bringing in close to $25 million in annual tax revenue, but that won’t be seen until a few years down the road. If projections hold, sportsbooks in the state could combine to post close to $300 million in gross revenue each year.
Kentucky should post some solid numbers right away. The first real test will come after the October numbers are announced.
Sportsbook Apps in KY
While retail sports betting launched ahead of the online sports betting apps, there is the potential to be up to 27 online sportsbooks coming to the state. However, it’s going to take a while to approach that number.
As soon as Kentucky announced that sports betting was legal, most of the top operators in this industry tried to secure a partnership in order to apply for a license. The Kentucky Lottery Commission didn’t waste much time in handing out online sports betting licenses as it wanted to create some competition right away.
Here is a complete list of mobile sportsbook apps available in Kentucky as of the September 28 launch:
- Bet365 Sportsbook
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Circa Sports
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- ESPN BET
- Fanatics Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
DraftKings and FanDuel are the two leaders when it comes to online sports betting market share in the United States, and they are expected to lead in the state of Kentucky. All of these operators have a ton of history in offering sports betting, and you aren’t going to see any small companies ready for the initial launch.
Sports bettors in Kentucky will be among the first to get to use ESPN BET and Fanatics Sportsbook. ESPN BET is the product of a merger between Penn National and ESPN, and Fanatics just made a huge move in acquiring PointsBet.
This list will be growing over time, but this is a solid list for the online sports betting launch.
Retail Sports Betting Locations in Kentucky
Horse racing has long played an important role in the culture of the state of Kentucky. So, it makes sense that those racetracks play a huge role in retail sports betting. The Kentucky sports betting law clearly defines the permitted retail sports betting locations.
This includes the nine horse racetracks in the state. When the retail sports betting launched on September 7th, seven horse racing tracks began accepting wagers.
Here are the horse tracks that have applied for a retail sports betting license:
- Churchill Downs Racetrack
- Cumberland Run Harness Track
- Ellis Park Racing & Gaming
- Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel
- Red Mile Racetrack
- Sandy’s Gaming & Racing
- Turfway Park Racing & Gaming
This list will continue to grow over time as all nine horse racing tracks are eventually expected to apply for a license.
Sports Teams to Bet on in Kentucky
Kentucky is not home to any teams in any of the four major professional sports, and that will ultimately hurt the sports betting numbers a little bit. Since there are no major professional teams in Kentucky, fans in the state RELIGIOUSLY follow the University of Kentucky.
Betting on both college football and basketball is extremely popular throughout the country, but it’s the men’s basketball team that is the most popular in this state. Kentucky has a rich history of success when it comes to college basketball, and sports fans in the state love to follow this team with intense passion.
Betting on the NFL is expected to be extremely popular in Kentucky. Surprisingly enough, the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys are two of the most popular teams in this state. Basketball is another big-time fan passion that drives sports betting. Shockingly, the Indiana Pacers are a popular NBA team in Kentucky and have a solid fan base here.
Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League don’t always lead to a ton of bets, but sports fans in Kentucky will make wagers during these seasons. The St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds are two popular MLB teams in Kentucky. The St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators are popular NHL teams.
FAQ for Betting in Kentucky
When did sports betting launch in Kentucky?
Retail sports betting in the state of Kentucky was first available on September 7, 2023. The online sports betting launch came just three weeks later, on September 28. The state wanted to launch sports betting during the 2023 NFL season.
What is the legal sports betting age in Kentucky?
The legal sports betting age in Kentucky is 18 years of age, while it is 21 in most other states. The minimum age to bet at horse tracks is also 18.
Are mobile apps in Kentucky?
Yes, several mobile sports betting apps are available in Kentucky. There could be as many as 27 of them since each of the nine horse racetracks is eligible to apply for up to three online sports betting skins.
Can I place a wager on the Kentucky Wildcats?
Yes, the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team is easily the most popular in the state. Sportsbooks can offer bets on this team. The clause initially prohibiting wagering on in-state college teams, has been removed.
Do I have to live in Kentucky to bet on sports?
No. Kentucky sports betting is open to anyone inside state lines. Geolocation services will track a customer’s physical location, and those within the state border can wager.