Kentucky sports betting is legal. HB 551 was passed on the last day of the state’s 2023 legislative session, legalizing online sports betting statewide. However, legal sports betting will not be available in Kentucky until sportsbooks in the state officially launch in September. Retail sports betting is scheduled to open on the first day of the NFL season on September 7, followed by online sports betting on September 28.

State of Kentucky Sports Betting Overview

Under the new Kentucky sports betting law, the market must go live within six months of the legislation’s effective date. The effective date set to June 28 gave the state until December 28 to get the industry off the ground. Regulators announced in July that retail sports betting would launch in the state on September 7, 2023, followed by online sports betting on September 28.

HB 551 passed in the Kentucky Senate with a 25-12 vote, effectively legalizing sports betting in the state. Gov. Beshear signed off on the bill fewer than 24 hours after passage.

Under the bill, legislators gave Kentucky’s nine horse racing tracks sports betting licenses. The proposal includes up to three online skins per track, meaning there could be up to 27 online sportsbooks in the state. Bettors will be allowed to place their bets at any of those locations and on licensed websites and apps. 

The bill proposes a tax of 14.25% for online operators and 9.75% on in-person sports betting revenue. Unlike previous years, the proposal dropped online poker and daily fantasy sports.

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said Kentucky sports betting could bring in an estimated $23 million in annual tax revenue.

Predicting the sportsbook apps that might launch in Kentucky and begin offering online sports betting promotions is not an easy task. At the moment, outside of Churchill Downs, major gambling companies own no locations in the state.

Churchill Downs presents another problem for discerning which companies might figure into sports betting in Kentucky. The company recently announced that it would be withdrawing from the online sports betting business. The most obvious candidate to offer a Kentucky sportsbook is now no longer a sports betting company.

There are still some companies that seem likely to be part of Kentucky online sports betting. However, the future sports betting industry in Kentucky will license sportsbooks according to the law and the regulations. 

State of Kentucky Sports Betting Timeline

Dec. 21, 2023 — Kentucky sports betting handle was $294.9 million in October, the state’s first full month with legal betting. Revenue was $54.5 million, and the state collected $7.6 million in taxes.

Dec. 13, 2023 — Derby City Gaming Downtown, a Churchill Downs-owned venue, is now open in Louisville.

Dec. 13, 2023 — According to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, the sports betting handle has surpassed $656 million since the state launched sports betting in September. That handle has resulted in more than $8 million in taxes collected by the state.

Dec. 7, 2023 — No. 16 Louisville will officially take on USC in the Holiday Bowl. Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky will face Clemson in the Gator Bowl, and Western Kentucky will play Old Dominion in the Famous Toastery Bowl.

Nov. 22, 2023 — The KHRC Sports Wagering Advisory Council officially signed off on PENN’s transition from Barstool to ESPN Bet and approved a few new sports for the state’s betting menu.

Nov. 17, 2023 — According to Gov. Andy Beshear, Kentucky’s online sports betting handle is close to $430 million since online betting launched on September 28.

July 10, 2023  The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced that online sports betting will launch in the state on September 28, 2023, and retail sports betting will launch on September 7, 2023 – the same day the NFL kicks off its season.

July 6, 2023  The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has scheduled a special meeting on July 10 to consider newly drafted sports betting regulations. Gov. Andy Beshear has said his office is pushing for a pre-NFL kickoff launch.

June 21, 2023  The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission plans for a session in early July to review and approve sports betting regulations.

June 19, 2023  The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has created a new position focusing on horse safety protocols after a recent spate of fatal horse injuries at Churchill Downs.

June 15, 2023  According to Sen. Damon Thayer, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is still optimistic that Kentucky sports betting could launch before the start of the NFL season in September.

May 31, 2023  DraftKings CEO Jason Robins recently stated he believes Kentucky lawmakers will have a clear timeline for sports betting legalization in the state by the time the operator holds its August earnings call.

May 23, 2023  As part of the new Kentucky sports betting legislation, operators will be charged a tax, with the proceeds going toward Kentucky’s permanent pension fund.

In 2022, Rep. Adam Koenig brought a sports betting bill for the fourth straight year, with a few adjustments. He dropped the Kentucky Speedway and an in-person registration requirement. As in a few past years, the bill cruised through Koenig’s committee.

However, the bill cleared a chamber in Kentucky for the first time. As the House passed HB 606 by a vote of 58-30. Senate considers the bill, but it is an uphill battle as Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said the support is not quite there.

The Senate allows Rep. Koenig‘s bill to die without a vote on Sine Die. The effort was the furthest a KY sports betting bill has gotten and provides hope for future efforts. Thayer expressed disappointment the bill did not pass but believes the support will be there in future years.