Churchill Downs Prepares For Beshear To Place First Sports Bet In Kentucky

Churchill Downs Prepares For Beshear To Place First Sports Bet In Kentucky
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

As many expected, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear will place the first legal sports bet in the state when brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are allowed to open next month.

On Wednesday, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced that the governor, who signed House Bill 551 into law in March, will make the wager at the gaming company’s flagship track in Louisville on Sept. 7. That’s the first day sportsbooks and kiosks can open at tracks and their historical horse racing satellites.

The news came one day after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved licenses for seven tracks and nine operators. 

“The countdown continues as we move closer to sports wagering with retail locations opening in just 16 days,” Beshear said in a statement after yesterday’s meeting. “Thank you to the KHRC commissioners for their dedication to getting this done right and getting it done in time for the opening of the NFL season.”

Churchill Downs owns four tracks and two satellites, and the company said all will be open for business on the first day.

While Churchill Downs has promoted sports betting elsewhere under the TwinSpires brand for a couple of years, it is going generic in Kentucky, calling them Race and Sports Books.

European-based gaming technology company Kambi will power Churchill Downs’ Kentucky sportsbooks.

Details On Churchill Sportsbooks

When Beshear makes his bet, he’ll do so in an area renovated at the track to accommodate sports betting. The Aristides Lounge will have 15 sports betting kiosks, a 168-square-foot video screen and 20 large televisions.

The sportsbook at Derby City Gaming, Churchill’s satellite in Louisville, will feature a 300-square-foot screen with 12 large televisions. Oak Grove, a harness track and HHR facility near Fort Campbell on the Tennessee state line, and Turfway Park in Florence will have a similar-sized sportsbook at its Northern Kentucky track, the site for a $226 million transformation that opened a year ago.

Ellis Park in Henderson will host five kiosks.

Kentucky sports betting apps, which launch Sept. 28, will assuredly become the preference for most Kentuckians who want to wager. However, the sportsbooks will serve as a place where people can bet while watching races or if they want to take in several sporting events simultaneously.

Churchill Downs Inc.’s online sports betting partners are Fanatics, FanDuel and Penn Interactive.

In a statement, Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said the company looks forward to having sportsbooks at its facilities.

“Sports betting as a tourism and economic development opportunity will further strengthen the state’s signature equine industry by bringing new guests into our live and historical racing venues,” he said.

Derby City Gaming and Newport Racing and Gaming, the satellite for Turfway Park, will also have “Bet & Jet” dedicated parking spaces that patrons can use for 15 minutes as they make their wagers.

The Race and Sports Book at Churchill Downs will accept wagers from adults 18 and older, which is the limit set in HB 551 and the same for wagering on horses. However, it’s uncertain if Churchill’s other Kentucky locations will follow suit or limit betting to 21 and up.

Elsewhere In Kentucky

Besides Churchill’s tracks and satellites, the KHRC approved four more retail locations.

In Lexington, work is well underway at Red Mile for a Caesars Sportsbook Kentucky. At a recent visit, saw that sports betting kiosks were already on site as crews continued renovating a bar area at the harness track’s HHR gaming floor.

Caesars will also be Red Mile’s online partner.

DraftKings Kentucky Sportsbook will open brick-and-mortar facilities at two locations in Eastern Kentucky, Cumberland Run in Corbin and The Mint Gaming Hall in Williamsburg, the satellite parlor for the harness track.

DraftKings will also be an online partner for Cumberland Run. Circa Sports is also an online partner.

BetMGM Kentucky Sportsbook will operate a retail location at Sandy’s Racing and Gaming, a quarter-horse track under construction near Ashland. That sportsbook is slated to open later when Sandy’s HHR gaming floor opens.

BetMGM and Bet365 have online access through their partnership with Sandy’s.

Get ahead of sports betting in the Bluegrass State and bookmark our Kentucky sportsbook promo code page and get the latest promos as soon as they are available to use.



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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