Kentucky Sports Betting Handle Nears $250 Million Since Launch

Kentucky Sports Betting Handle Nears $250 Million Since Launch
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Gov. Andy Beshear gave yet another Kentucky sports betting update Monday afternoon, reporting that Bluegrass State bettors have wagered more than $248 million since the first sportsbooks opened more than six weeks ago.

The overwhelming majority of that handle has come from Kentucky online sports betting apps. Beshear said that more than $232.3 million of the bets have been placed by nearly 500,000 active accounts through the seven licensed online operators, all of which went live on Sept. 28. The state’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks located at racetracks and historical horse racing gaming halls have taken more than $15.7 million since they first opened, starting on Sept. 7.

“Kentucky is approaching $250 million wagered. That is a strong number that certainly reflects excitement for the opening of sports wagering,” said Gov. Beshear. “It has taken many years to get here, but sports wagering is finally a reality in Kentucky. This is a win-win for Kentuckians, who can enjoy a quality entertainment experience and benefit from funds staying right here in our state to help us build a better Kentucky.”

It’s the third time Beshear has announced handle figures. Earlier this month, he announced bettors wagered about $66.5 million through the first weekend of online Kentucky betting apps wagering. The governor’s news release did not mention how much tax revenue was generated or how much of the handle was generated through operator promotions. Projections indicate the state should receive $23 million in tax revenue during the first full year of wagering.

According to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the state regulatory body overseeing sports betting, tax payments for September were due on Friday.

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Kentucky Sports Betting Becoming Political

Beshear signed House Bill 551 into law nearly seven months ago, and since then, he’s made it a key part of his re-election campaign – just as he did when he won four years ago. The Democratic incumbent faces Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron in the Nov. 7 race. There’s even a campaign ad devoted to the legalization of sports betting that has appeared on streaming service providers during their live broadcast of games.

The issue has become a point of contention with some Republicans. The GOP has supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, and while Democratic votes were essential to getting the bill passed – which happened surprisingly, at the end of a short session – it was Republican state Rep. Michael Meredith and Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer who got enough of their party’s support to surpass the three-fifths majorities needed to get HB551 to Beshear’s desk this year.

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But Wait, There’s More

While most operators launched and sportsbooks opened last month, a few are still waiting to roll out. One of those will do so later this week when Sandy’s Racing and Gaming holds the grand opening for its $75 million HHR gaming hall in Ashland on Thursday. Beshear is slated to attend the event, which will also include the unveiling of BetMGM’s retail sportsbook. The joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Entain launched its online app in the state last month.

Circa Sports has also been approved for an online license, but the Las Vegas-based operator is expected to launch later this year. It also has announced plans for a brick-and-mortar facility at Kentucky Downs. The Franklin track has recently submitted its application for a license, which is pending, according to the KHRC.

“We are hearing very positive feedback from both our licensees and people wagering in Kentucky,” KHRC Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz said. “Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the team, this launch has exceeded our expectations. Our work continues to protect the bettors in the state and support the best customer experience.”

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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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