Kentucky Sports Betting Could Generate Close to $3B in Handle in 1st Year

Kentucky Sports Betting Could Generate Close to $3B in Handle in 1st Year
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

The newest state for legalized wagering in America is the Bluegrass State, which opened the Kentucky sports betting era in full, including mobile betting apps, on Thursday morning. Kentucky will follow their northern neighbor, which launched on New Year’s Day, and Massachusetts as the nation’s third opening of 2023. 

The bluegrass state joined the more than 30 states and the District of Columbia with some form of legalized wagering earlier this month when a handful of retail Kentucky sportsbooks opened their doors to the public. We used Kansas as a model, as the state has similar adult population numbers and has zero professional sports teams in the state limits but does have two “Power Five” college teams.  

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Select States in First Year of Sports Betting

Below you'll find a list of some states and how they performed in their first year of legalized sports betting. Keep in mind that Kentucky's numbers are projections from us at

State Population 1st-Year Handle
Kentucky 4.5 million $2.8 billion*
Arizona 7.28 million $5.43 billion
Colorado 5.8 million $2.3 billion
Illinois 12.67 million $5.5 billion
Indiana 6.8 million $1.2 billion
Iowa 3.2 million $391 million
Louisiana 4.66 million $1.85 billion
Michigan 10.1 million $1.98 billion
Montana 1.1 million $27.8 million
Pennsylvania 13.0 million $1.165 billion
Tennessee 6.9 million $2.3 billion
Virginia 8.6 million $3.22 billion
Washington, D.C. 689,545 $34.7 million
Wyoming 576,851 $135.8 million
* — projections

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Kentucky Primed For Historic Year 1

It’s no wonder why national sportsbooks have their eyes on the Bluegrass State, as projections indicate it could stand with some of the nation's top markets in its first year of operations. Using Kansas as a model, Kentucky sportsbook apps are projected to rake in just over $2.8 billion in handle during their first year of operations.  

That’s based on Kansas’ first-year sports betting handle total ($1,850,720,950) divided by the state’s population (2,937,847), equaling $629.96 per resident. From there, we multiply that per capita figure by Kentucky’s population (4,505,836), equaling a total figure of $2,838,488,553 for the first calendar year of operations. That total figure averages out to roughly $236.5 million per month, with peaks and valleys associated with the seasons.  

If Kentucky is able to take in more than $2 billion in first-year handle, it would rank in the same ballpark as states like Tennessee and Colorado ($2.3 billion each), Michigan ($1.98 billion), Indiana ($1.2 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.165 billion) and Louisiana ($1.85 billion). We’ll know more about where Kentucky’s fledgling sports betting marketplace goes in the months ahead, though, for now, we know that the Bluegrass State offers limitless potential for operators and Bluegrass State residents alike.  

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Christopher Boan is a staff writer for He has covered sports and sports betting for more than seven years and has worked for publications such as, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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