Kentucky Prepares to Enter the Legal Sports Betting Era

Kentucky sports betting will start Thursday morning, in person, at locations such as the famous Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Sep 6, 2023 • 07:55 ET • 2 min read
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The era of legal sports betting is about to dawn in Kentucky, as the Bluegrass State will launch event wagering tomorrow at brick-and-mortar racing and gaming facilities. 

Kentucky sports betting will start Thursday morning, in person, at locations such as the famous Churchill Downs in Louisville, highlighting how wagering will flow through the state’s horse-racing industry. 

The locations approved for retail sportsbooks thus far include:

  • Churchill Downs in Louisville
  • Ellis Park in Henderson
  • The Red Mile in Lexington
  • Derby City Gaming in Louisville
  • The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland Run in Corbin
  • Newport Racing and Gaming in Newport
  • Oak Grove Gaming and Racing in Oak Grove
  • Turfway Park in Florence

Mobile sports betting sites will legally launch in Kentucky on Thursday, September 28, at 6 a.m. ET, although players can begin depositing money into their pre-registered accounts with online operators starting tomorrow morning as well. Pre-registration for online sportsbooks commenced on August 28 in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved temporary licenses for several online sportsbooks last month, putting them in a position to accept pre-registrations and then wagers on Sept. 28. They are:

“Kentucky chose a tiered implementation, which has been used in multiple states and which allows for the testing of policies and procedures before the full rollout that includes mobile applications,” a press release noted last month.

A political win?

The launch in Kentucky will make the state the 35th to start legal sports betting, according to the count kept by the American Gaming Association. While the Kentucky launch was years in the making, its arrival means a state that has long embraced gambling on one sport, horse racing, will offer a fuller slate of options to punters, albeit only (for now) if they travel to a gaming facility.

State regulators approved late last month an initial catalog of bettable events and have been busy awarding licenses for a variety of people and entities, including data and technology firm Sportradar.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is also running for re-election this November, and the incumbent has not been shy about publicizing the sports-betting launch in Kentucky, which was made possible under his watch. 

Kentucky is estimating sports wagering will yield around $23 million in tax revenue for the state every year when it is fully implemented, based on its 9.75% levy on retail wagering receipts and 14.25% charge for online income. Those funds will mostly flow to the state’s permanent pension fund, although 2.5% is earmarked for a new problem gambling assistance program. 

“We are ready to deliver the quality entertainment experience Kentuckians asked for, while bringing money to the state to support pensions and free up funds that can be used to build a better Kentucky,” Beshear said in an August 17 press release.

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