Kentucky Sports Betting Initial Revenues In, Online Launching Soon

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The Kentucky sports wagering market launched on September 7 for retail betting, and the initial figures are promising, reflecting the state’s enthusiasm for this new form of entertainment.

In just over two weeks, retail sportsbooks in Kentucky have accepted more than $4.5 million in bets. The news comes ahead of the September 28 launch of regulated online sports betting in the Bluegrass State.

As well as that reasonable $4.5 million retail handle, more than 60,000 Kentuckians have preregistered with mobile sports betting operators.

“This is a strong number that certainly reflects the excitement Kentuckians have for the opening of sports wagering,” said Governor Andy Beshear, who two weeks ago placed the state’s historic first legal sports bet.

“With college football and the NFL season underway, plus the launch of mobile wagering, we expect that number will grow significantly.”

Online Launching, Churchill Downs Absent

Sports bettors in Kentucky have nine sportsbooks currently operating to choose from, and more are set to open. That includes an upcoming BetMGM ‘book at the soon-to-open Sandy’s Racing and Gaming.

The state will also soon debut online sports betting on eight platforms: bet365, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, and Penn Entertainment.

One notable absence from that list is the iconic Churchill Downs racetrack, home of the Kentucky Derby. Its operator, Churchill Downs Incorporated, has an agreement with FanDuel to provide the FanDuel Sportsbook to Kentucky via its Turfway Park racecourse.

Churchill Downs racecourse itself has not announced an online sportsbook partner as of yet, despite saying it was interested. But it is working with growing platform provider Kambi for retail betting.

Circa Sports will not be launching with rest either, but is set to debut in Kentucky later this year.

Also this week, The Sports Wagering Advisory Council has approved several new sports for online betting to add to the previously declared list. That included F1 Racing, National Rugby League, Professional Fighters League MMA, Bellator MMA, and Universal Tennis League.

Mobile Wagering and Pre-Registrations

In anticipation of the mobile launch, users can already create accounts and deposit money into their preferred licensed mobile wagering applications.

Governor Beshear revealed that more than 60,000 mobile accounts are already pre-registered in the state. That’s also not including all application licensees, as some have not yet reported their pre-registration figures.

The council expects online wagering to constitute the majority of betting activity in the state, aligning with the trends in most states, where online comprises more than 90% of the total bets.

Various sportsbooks set to debut have already started offering bonus bets to entice players. BetMGM and DraftKings have weighed in with large $100 free bet offers. However, British operator bet365 and Fanatics have taken a more unique approach.

Bet365 is offering $10 in free bets for every touchdown when the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions the night before the market goes live.

Meanwhile, growing national operator Fanatics is offering a free sports jersey from their merchandise business to anyone wagering more than $50 on the opening weekend.

Taxes and Laws

The state has implemented a tiered excise tax on sports wagering, with 9.75% on the adjusted gross revenues on wagers made at a licensed facility and 14.25% on wagers placed online or on mobile.

This new form of revenue is anticipated to contribute an estimated $23 million a year upon full implementation, The funds are earmarked for the Kentucky permanent pension fund, as well as supporting the oversight of sports wagering.

Additionally, 2.5% of the revenue will be allocated to the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund. This will help educate Kentuckians on responsible gambling practices, and provide services to detect, prevent and treat problem gambling patterns.

Interestingly, some Kentucky online sportsbooks will have a minimum wagering of age set to the same as the state’s age 18 requirement, and others have set it higher at 21+.

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