Thursday is a day that many Kentuckians have waited for for a long time. Starting today, the Bluegrass State joins 34 other states and the District of Columbia as legal sports betting in Kentucky is operational.
The first bets were placed around 10 a.m., with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear doing the honors at Churchill Downs in Louisville and state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and state Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, placing theirs at the Red Mile in Lexington. Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman also placed the first bet at Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky. The governor was joined at Churchill Downs by a slew of dignitaries, including Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg; state Rep. Al Gentry, a Louisville Democrat who was a key co-sponsor of sports betting legislation; and former NFL players Will Wolford and Eric Wood.
Beshear’s first bet was a $20 parlay. The three-leg wager included picks on Kentucky and Louisville’s football teams to go over their projected wins for the season and for Duke to go under. In addition to the tax money that will mostly go to paying down the state’s public pension shortfall, Beshear touted other benefits sports betting can bring to the state. “This is going to continue to supercharge our tourism industry, which had its best year in history last year in terms of economic impact,” he told the crowd that gathered at Churchill’s Race and Sports Book. “This is coming at a time when our economy is booming like never before. We’re coming off our two best years for economic development in our history, and we are living in our third.”
What’s Open Now In Kentucky?
A bipartisan group of lawmakers passed House Bill 551 in the Kentucky General Assembly in March to legalize sports betting in the state. The law allows for online wagering along with brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, and the online Kentucky betting apps will launch in three weeks. HB 551 gave the state’s nine licensed racetracks the ability to pursue licenses and host brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at their facilities, including historical horse racing satellite venues. So far, seven tracks have received licenses.
Of those, six plan to start taking bets on Thursday. Besides its flagship Louisville track, Churchill Downs Incorporated also will open sportsbooks and kiosks at its three other tracks in the state: Turfway, Ellis Park in Henderson, and Oak Grove Racing and Gaming in southwestern Kentucky. Derby City Gaming, a Churchill Downs satellite, and Newport Racing and Gaming, a Turfway satellite, will also accept wagers.
Red Mile Racing and Gaming in Lexington will cut the ribbon to open a Caesars Sportsbook at its harness racing track. In southeastern Kentucky, Cumberland Run, a harness track in Corbin, will celebrate the opening of its DraftKings retail sportsbook. Cumberland Run will also have a DraftKings sportsbook at its The Mint HHR satellite venue in Williamsburg near the Tennessee state line.
Sandy’s Racing and Gaming, which is under construction in Ashland plans a grand opening ceremony later this year. When that happens, it will also open a BetMGM sportsbook Kentucky at its eastern facility. Check with each facility for hours of operation.
Online Accounts Ready For Deposits
In addition to retail sportsbooks opening in 10 sites across the state, Thursday also marks a milestone for online sports betting as well. People who have pre-registered with an online operator can start placing deposits into their accounts.
Operators approved for Kentucky online sports betting licenses are Bet365, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Circa Sports, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel and Penn Interactive. Online wagering will begin on Sept. 28. Visit BetKentucky.com regularly for the latest in Kentucky sportsbook promo codes and sports betting news.