Beshear Says Kentuckians Enjoying Sports Betting At Home As Handle Tops $447M

Beshear Says Kentuckians Enjoying Sports Betting At Home As Handle Tops $447M
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Gov. Andy Beshear gave yet another update on Kentucky sports betting during his press briefing Thursday, with the amount wagered now approaching $450 million.

Nearly 650,000 accounts have been set up with the seven licensed Kentucky online sports betting operators, Beshear said. Since the start of online wagering on Sept. 28, those apps have taken more than $426.6 million in wagers. Bettors have also gambled $21.2 million in the state’s retail sportsbooks at participating horse tracks and historical horse racing gaming halls.

Beshear, who won a second four-year term as governor earlier this month, quipped that sports betting commercials are more prevalent on Kentucky’s airwaves than political ads.

“Kentuckians are enjoying a quality entertainment experience with funds staying right here in our state to build a better Kentucky,” the governor said.

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What We Still Don’t Know About Kentucky Sports Betting

While Beshear has been constantly announcing handle figures for the past couple of months, Kentucky officials have not yet announced other pertinent figures tied to sports betting. That would include revenue the sportsbooks have generated, the amount of promotional spend operators have offered bettors and the amount of tax revenue generated by the state.

Those figures will provide a better idea of how much money is coming back to bettors and how much of an impact Kentucky sports betting is making on the state.

During a KHRC meeting last month, Director of Sports Wagering Hans Stokke told commissioners that more detailed financial data would become available after staffers have had a chance to audit reports from licensees.

Kentucky makes money off sports betting by taxing operator revenues, which is how much they make off bettors each month. Revenues generated at the retail sportsbooks are taxed at 9.75%, while online Kentucky sportsbook apps earnings are taxed at 14.25%. The bulk of those proceeds will help the state cover its public pension shortfalls, but tax proceeds will also help the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission oversee sports betting. In addition, 2.5% of the revenue will be earmarked for the state’s problem gambling assistance fund.

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How States Report Sports Betting Data

Legal sports betting is currently operational in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Just as each state has its own set of rules to regulate sports betting, each state has its own way of reporting revenues generated from the activity.

Some states, like Indiana and Ohio, break down handle and revenue data by operator each month. Indiana, Illinois and Colorado are among the states showing how much bettors wagered on some sports. Tennessee, which moved to a handle tax earlier this year, only releases the total amount wagered across the state and the amount of tax dollars received.

Likewise, the timing of reports also varies by state. Indiana typically releases its data within two weeks after the month ends. For example, October information was released on Monday. Ohio typically schedules its report for the end of the proceeding month.

While we don’t know what Kentucky will report, the KHRC website may provide some insight. For pari-mutuel operators, the commission reports on-site wagering and revenue for each track, simulcast betting for each track, handle and revenue for each HHR gaming facility and handle for each licensed online advanced-deposit wagering account operator.

In September, the state’s 10 licensed HHR gaming halls reported a combined handle of $754.6 million and earned $56.8 million in net revenue. The state made $11.3 million in taxes, which are split among several equine-related funds and the Kentucky General Fund.

According to the KHRC September report, which was released earlier this month, Churchill Downs’ Derby City Gaming reported a handle of $192.1 million wagered in its 1,299 machines. After taxes, the Louisville venue earned nearly $14.5 million in revenue. The Mint Gaming Hall at Kentucky Downs in Franklin had a handle of $152.5 million wagered in its 1,063 machines. The track reported net revenues of $10.9 million.

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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