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Kentucky kicks off retail sports betting

7 Sep 2023

By Jarrod LeBlanc
Kentucky begins retail sports wagering today.

Kentucky begins retail sports wagering today.

Bettors up!

Much like the iconic “Riders Up” call at the Kentucky Derby, today is the day all sports-betting enthusiasts 18-and-older who are in The Bluegrass State have been waiting for to receive the greenlight for legal retail sports wagering.

This day has been five months in the making from when Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed HB 551 on the last day of the state’s 2023 legislative season following a 25-12 vote by the legislators.

The Bluegrass state is unique as it’s one of only seven states out of the 38 where the legal gambling age is 18, while the rest of the states require bettors to be 21. Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Washington and Wyoming are the other states on the list. However, it should be noted some retail locations and online operators are requiring all bettors to be 21 years old in Kentucky.

Governor Beshear will kick things off as he will place the first bet in the state at Churchill Downs, while Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman will be on a hand to place the first bet at Turfway Park and Newport Racing & Gaming.

For those in Kentucky who want to get a jump on the action, they can do so at 6 a.m. by pre-registering and depositing money into an account with an approved mobile application. This will alleviate rushing upon being able to place an in-person bet at the following nine licensed retail facilities starting today at 10 a.m.

- Churchill Downs, Louisville
- Derby City Gaming, Louisville
- Ellis Park, Henderson
- Cumberland Run Harness Track, Corbin
- The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland, Williamsburg
- Newport Racing & Gaming, Newport
- Oak Grove Racing, Gaming and Hotel, Oak Grove
- The Red Mile Gaming & Racing, Lexington
- Turfway Park Racing and Gaming, Florence

The following were approved, with facilities coming soon:
- Derby City Gaming, coming soon to downtown Louisville
- Ellis Park, coming soon to Owensboro
- Sandy's Racing and Gaming, coming soon to Ashland

Last Thursday, 31 August, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved the Sports Wagering Advisory Council’s recommended initial catalog of sporting events for wagering. The following are some of the 99 events on the official final list:

  • NFL
  • MLB
  • NBA
  • WNBA
  • NCAA football, basketball, hockey, softball and baseball
  • eSports (Call of Duty League, Counterstrike Global Offensive, League of Legends, Dota 2, NBA 2K League, Overwatch League, Rainbow 6, and Valorant)
  • PBA (Professional Bowlers Association)
  • PBR (Professional Bull Riding)
  • WBA (World Boxing Association)
  • Racing and other Motor Sports
  • X Games
  • Futsal

At this time, the sports betting catalogue will not include horse racing, dog racing, pickleball, or any events that are not considered sporting events, such as the Academy or Emmy Awards.

All bettors in Kentucky will be able to place the following type of wagers on the aforementioned sporting events:

  • Single game bets
  • Teaser bets
  • Parlays
  • Over-under bets
  • Money line bets
  • Pools
  • In-game wagering
  • In-play bets
  • Proposition bets
  • Straight bets

In two weeks, on Thursday, 28 September, at 6 a.m. all bettors in Kentucky can start placing wagers at the following list of eight approved online operators:

- Bet365
- BetMGM
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Circa Sports
- Draftkings
- Fanatics
- FanDuel
- Penn Sports Interactive

Kambi also received approval as a service provider for retail operations, but it will not have a mobile application.

According to the Kentucky Horse Race Commission, sports wagering is expected to increase the state’s revenue by an estimated $23 million a year upon full implementation. The increase in revenue will support the oversight of sports wagering and then be dedicated to the Kentucky permanent pension fund. Additionally, 2.5% will support the problem gambling assistance account operated by the Cabinet for Health and Family Service
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