Kentucky Survey Shows Sports Betting Support, Horse Racing Fandom

Another indication of sport betting's popularity in Kentucky is that Gov. Andy Beshear has been front and center during the implementation process as he campaigns for reelection.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2023 2:12 PM ET Read Time: 3 min
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An early sounding of public opinion about legal sports betting in the Bluegrass State suggests most Kentuckians favor expanded wagering opportunities, even if they still prefer to play the ponies.

Kentucky sports betting began on September 7 at brick-and-mortar racing and gaming properties. Online sports betting sites will launch in the state on September 28.

So far, though, Kentuckians may be enjoying their newfound entertainment options. That is, of course, what an online survey conducted for Covers by market research company Prolific suggests. Prolific surveyed 261 adults in Kentucky from September 5 to September 18 for the poll, which has a margin of error of 6%.

While the survey size is relatively small, most of those who responded were pro-sports wagering. Asked if they are in favor of sports betting becoming legal in Kentucky, 67.8% agreed or strongly agreed. Another 18.8% disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 13.4% responded they didn't know.

The survey asked why respondents supported or didn't support sports betting as well. Of those in support, 36.4% answered the state could benefit from the extra tax revenue, 16.5% said it's already happening and should be regulated by the state, 12.5% said it's fun and adults should be allowed to wager on sports, and 34.7% agreed with all of those options.

As for those opposed to sports betting legalization, 63.3% answered it was because gambling can be harmful, 6.1% were concerned about it undermining the integrity of events, another 6.1% selected "other," and 24.5% chose all of the above, which also included that the state should receive more revenue than currently expected. The figure floated by the Kentucky government is that it could net around $23 million a year in additional revenue when sports betting is implemented fully. 

The Covers survey also asked respondents how they feel about wagering on college sports, with 54.6% agreeing or strongly agreeing it should be legal, which it is in Kentucky. Another 25.3% disagreed or strongly disagreed it should be legal, and 20% responded they were unsure.

Lastly, survey respondents were asked which sport they would most likely wager on from a list of options, with 37% answering horse racing, making it the most popular response. Wagering on horse racing was already legal in Kentucky and will continue to be so at the track, OTBs, and racebook apps, which might account for its popularity in the survey. The second-most popular response was NFL football, at 28.3%, and then college basketball at 20.9%.

Stay on target

Again, while the survey pool is relatively small, it suggests the support is there for legal sports betting in Kentucky. Another indication of its popularity is that Gov. Andy Beshear has been front and center during the implementation process as he campaigns for reelection in November. Beshear even placed a ceremonial first wager at Churchill Downs earlier this month, which was a parlay that included the win totals of two state football teams. 

“Today is a great day to celebrate and have a little bit of fun doing so,” Beshear declared in a press release on September 7. “It has taken many years to get here, but sports wagering is finally a reality in Kentucky. This is a win-win for Kentuckians, who can enjoy a quality entertainment experience and benefit from funds staying right here in our state to help us build a better Kentucky.”

The mobile launch in Kentucky is still on September 28, according to the state horse racing commission. The regulator has approved temporary licenses for several online sportsbooks, putting them in a position to accept pre-registrations now and then wagers on Sept. 28. They are:

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