Kentucky Sports Betting

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After lawmakers supported the legalization of sports betting for years in Kentucky, the state finally legalized the activity in March 2023. That was the first important step before the launch of legal sports betting in the state.

Home of the famed Kentucky Derby, the state faced some long odds during the 2021 legislative session with just 30 days on the clock to try and pass a sports betting bill to legalize the industry. Well, attempts to legalize sports betting in early 2021 have come short, but supporters of the legalization continued to work on the topic.

The move in early 2021 failed because the state had to muster 60% support for a solution that would have legalized sports gambling in the state. With several attempts missing the mark previously, in 2023, the state made a major step forward.

In mid-March 2023, House Bill 551 (HB 551), proposing the legalization of sports betting in Kentucky successfully cleared the House. Then, later the same month, the proposal passed the Senate. Once this happened, HB 551 was signed into law by Governor Andy Beshear, who effectively legalized sports betting in Kentucky.

Latest Gambling News in Kentucky

When Will Online Sports Betting in Kentucky Roll Out?

Legal sports betting was one of the most hotly debated topics during the state’s legislative sessions and has been so since 2018. After years of trying, lawmakers finally pushed through and legalized the activity in 2023.

Gov. Beshear has long supported the legalization of wagering on sports. The governor’s argument is simple – legalize sports betting to help offset the budget shortfall that the pandemic left. At the same time, legalizing the activity would help by not only bringing tax revenue, but also reducing the share of offshore operators, and keeping money in Kentucky that otherwise may be spent in a neighboring state on the activity.

HB551 was signed into law by Gov. Beshear at the end of March 2023, leaving regulated sports betting a step away from launch. Local news outlets confirmed that lawmakers are unlikely to wait long for the rollout of legal sports betting. The regulator of the activity, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, hinted that the launch can be expected soon. Without confirming a solid date, the regulator said that it is hopeful that regulated sports betting will arrive just in time for the 2023 National Football League (NFL).

Mobile Wagering in Kentucky: Already Known to Sports Fans 

Kentuckians are already familiar with how remote sports gambling works. Any attempt to regulate the industry would therefore factor this in and allow the state to enable mobile licenses. The outlook seems optimistic, given that HB 551 legalizes not only retail but mobile betting as well.

Under the bill that was recently signed into law, Kentucky horse racing tracks will be allowed to operate retail betting outlets. At the same time, they will have the option to team up with up to three online sports betting companies. In other words, Kentucky residents will have the option to choose from more than a dozen of legal mobile/online sports betting operators.

Can You Bet Legally on Horse Racing in Kentucky?

Naturally, the state is known for the Kentucky Derby, the Triple Crown event that draws huge crowds and is one of the most significant races on the calendar. Horse racing’s regulated status has benefited the state’s well-developed industry, which operates out of seven race tracks in the Bluegrass State.

Kentucky has had racetracks since 1805, too, but the state is surprisingly liberal when it comes to horse racing, and residents can even place bets remotely on websites such as TwinSpires and do so legally.

What Sportsbooks Are Coming to Kentucky Legalized Sports Betting?

Given that sports betting is legal in Kentucky, we are bound to see an influx of sportsbooks looking to secure the best possible entry into the market. Churchill Downs, the venue that hosts the Kentucky Derby, is actually already running an online sports betting business out of state. 

In April 2021, Churchill Downs Incorporated launched mobile sports betting apps in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. The company already operates TwinSpires, the betting app that is available in the majority of horse racing states in the United States and accepts horse race wagers.

The point is that Kentucky is definitely not without candidates when it comes to setting up sportsbooks in the state. In fact, you can argue that CDIFanDuel, and DraftKings are already patiently biding their time and anticipate the launch date for mobile sports betting in Kentucky.

More potential entrants could be brands such as BetMGM, WynnBet, PointsBet. PointsBet, in particular, is a really good one. The company is actually historically involved with horse races, and it has transitioned to sports betting only recently, coinciding with the firm’s debut in the United States. 

What’s the Outlook for Kentucky Sports Betting in 2022?

Signing HB 551 into law by Gov. Beshear was without any doubt the most important step ahead of the launch of sports betting in Kentucky. Additionally, the law made the launch of sports betting inevitable, as it needs to be completed in the state by December 28, 2023. Despite the legalization and outright strong demand by bettors, there are groups that still oppose wagering on sports in Kentucky.

Anti-gambling and religious sentiments are prevalent with certain groups in the state, giving a strong voice to opponents who don’t want gambling to move any further. While these groups are not as significant, nor are their arguments always justified, they are part of the GOP electoral base, and as such, their opinions matter.

As with other states, prior to launching legal betting activities, Kentucky would need to go through licensing of the operators. This is normally not a lengthy process, but it is one of the pillars for creating a sustainable, competitive and strong sports betting market.

Given that Kentucky will offer retail, as well as mobile sports betting, there will be plenty of options available for fans that like to wager. It is clear that the market will launch soon so sports fans and bettors would only need to be patient a little longer. There’s no solid date yet, but Kentucky bettors may be able to enjoy legal sports betting at some point this autumn, just in time for the new NFL season.

FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Kentucky?

Yes, sports betting is legal in Kentucky after lawmakers legalized the activity in March 2023.

Can you place mobile sports wagers in Kentucky?

Currently, this is not possible. As of April 2023, Kentucky hasn’t launched mobile or retail sports betting.

Is horse racing legal in Kentucky?

Yes, you can legally place a wager on horse races in Kentucky. You can do so in person at one of the seven authorized race tracks or online via the TwinSpires betting app.

When is sports betting going to be available in Kentucky?

Legal sports betting is expected to become available for eligible players in Kentucky in the autumn or winter months of 2023.