Kentucky sports betting

2023 is going to be a big year for Kentucky sports betting, as legal options are now LIVE in the state. The retail sports betting launch is set to take place on September 7th, while online sportsbooks can launch on September 28th. 

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. There were some key points that kept lawmakers from passing a bill, but eventually a deal was reached. 

Kentucky will now be joining the Midwest portion of the United States that is absolutely loaded with sports betting markets. There are also some huge markets in this part of the country, but 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 is in charge of regulating this new industry, and both online and retail options will be available. 

History Behind Kentucky Sports Betting Legalization

Kentucky was actually discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting all the way back in 2017, and that was before the federal ban on sports betting was lifted. That bill was actually 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 of Kentucky, but Governor Matt Blevin was not in favor of legalization. 

There were four sports betting bills introduced in 2019, but most of those 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 in Kentucky worked all the way up to April 15 in an effort 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 get something done. 

Sports betting started to gain some traction in 2022 as the House of Representatives was ready to get something done. That wasn’t the case in the Senate though, and 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 it was announced that the Senate had approved a sports betting bill, and it went into effect on June 28th of 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, but 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 those projections hold true then the 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, but the first real test will come after the October numbers are announced. 

Sportsbook Apps in Kentucky

While retail sports betting is going to launch ahead of the online sports betting apps, most bettors in the state are expected to wait for online options to become available. There is the potential to be up to 27 online sportsbooks coming to the state of Kentucky, but it’s going to take awhile to approach that number.

As soon as Kentucky announced that sports betting was legal, most of the top operators in this industry all 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 that will be available for the launch on September 28th:

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, and it only makes sense that those racetracks play a huge role in retail sports betting. The Kentucky sports betting law was extremely clear when it came to laying out the locations in which retail sports betting could be offered. 

There are nine horse racing tracks in the state of Kentucky and that is where all of the retail wagers will be placed. When the retail sports betting launch in the state of Kentucky happens on September 7th, there will be seven horse racing tracks that are 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 are 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 has 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, and 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 will first be available on September 7, 2023. The online sports betting launch is going to come just three weeks later, on September 28. Kentucky wanted to launch sports betting during the 2023 NFL season and is expected to be a big revenue-earner for the state in terms of taxes.

The legal sports betting age in Kentucky is set at just 18 years of age, and you are typically going to find that the legal age is 21 in most other states. The reason for the difference in Kentucky is that anyone at least 18 years of age is allowed to bet at the horse tracks. 

Are mobile apps in Kentucky?

Yes, there will be mobile sports betting apps available in the state of Kentucky, and there could be as many as 27 of them. Each of the nine horse racing tracks are eligible to apply for up to three online sports betting skins, but the launch will happen with less than 10 operators. 

Can I place a wager on the Kentucky Wildcats?

Yes, the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team is easily the most popular team in the state, and sportsbooks can offer bets on this team. There was initially a clause to prohibit betting on in-state college teams, but that was removed. 

Do I have to live in Kentucky to bet on sports?

Absolutely not. Kentucky sports betting is open to anyone that is inside of the state of Kentucky. Geolocation services will track a customer’s physical location, and those that are within the state border will be able to wager.