Kentucky Sports Betting
Sports betting is coming to Kentucky later this year!
Gov. Andy Beshear signed HB 551 into law at the end of March, which legalized retail and online sports betting. Per the new legislation, the state’s nine horse tracks and Kentucky Speedway can open brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. They can also partner with up to three companies for online operations.
Caesars Sportsbook became the first major operator to guarantee itself a place in the Kentucky market. It partnered with Keeneland and The Red Mile for retail sportsbooks and a Kentucky sports betting app.
Even though the sports betting industry won’t launch for several months, Kentuckians can still bet on horse races. FanDuel horse racing Kentucky is one of the more popular apps for Kentucky gamblers.
PlayKentucky has all you need to know about KY sports betting. Check back for updates about when and where sportsbooks will launch and what to expect when they do.
Latest Kentucky sports betting news
Beshear: Kentucky ‘Committed’ To Launching Sportsbooks By NFL Season
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear made his boldest public statement regarding a Kentucky sports gambling launch timeline Thursday. What did he say?
Compared To Other States, Barstool Sportsbook Could Thrive In Kentucky
Barstool’s target market and Kentucky’s age limit for sports betting could spell success for Barstool Sportsbook in the Bluegrass State.
Is it legal to bet on sports in Kentucky?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Kentucky now that the Bluegrass State has joined the growing list of states that authorize it.
In March 2023, the Kentucky House passed HB 551 by a 63-34 margin. Then, a couple of weeks later, the Kentucky Senate passed it as well by a 25-12 vote on the final day of the legislative session. The bill needed 60% to vote in favor, which meant it passed the Senate with a couple of votes to spare.
Gov. Andy Beshear then signed the bill into law on March 31, 2023, officially legalizing sports betting in Kentucky.
When will Kentucky sports betting launch?
The new law puts the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) in charge of regulating sports betting in the state. The law stipulates the KHRC “shall promulgate administrative regulations to establish a fully functioning sports wagering system within six (6) months after the effective date” of the bill.
That effective date is June 28, 2023, which makes Dec. 28, 2023, a deadline of sorts for the KHRC to have everything in place for sports betting to launch.
Most observers believe the retail sportsbooks at KY racetracks will likely be ready to open before that date, perhaps in time for Kentuckians to bet on the 2023 football season. Online sportsbooks could launch at the same time, or might go live soon after.
In any case, expect more concrete news to emerge as the racetracks apply for licenses and strike up deals with online operators while the KHRC hammers out and finalizes sports betting rules.
Kentucky sports betting updates
- May 31 — In a bold public statement, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said KY officials are “committed to make it happen” in regards to launching sports betting by NFL kickoff.
- May 30 — DraftKings told PlayKentucky it was committed to following the age limits in each jurisdiction it operates. Does that mean DraftKings could be 18+ in Kentucky?
- May 25 — The Red Mile hires former Caesars Entertainment director of racing operations Gabe Prewitt to run its retail Caesars Sportsbook when it launches.
- May 22 — An official at The Red Mile told the local FOX station that the racetrack will call its retail Caesars Sportsbook “The Red Room.” It will be located in the former clubhouse.
- May 17 — Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen shared during a business presentation that he believes Kentucky sportsbooks will launch “around football season.” Churchill Downs has yet to announce its retail sportsbook partner, or any of its up to three online partners.
- May 16 — Becoming the first sportsbook to secure its place in the KY sports betting market, Caesars inked deals with Keeneland and The Red Mile for two retail sportsbooks and a mobile sportsbook app.
- May 10 — Rep. Josh Calloway and Rep. Michael Meredith told PlayKentucky why the 21-plus and credit card amendments failed during Kentucky sports betting bill deliberations.
- May 5 — DraftKings CEO Jason Robins told investors during the company’s first-quarter earnings call that he expects a Kentucky launch timeline by August.
- May 3 — During their first-quarter earnings call, executives for Rush Street Interactive — the parent company of BetRivers — said they aren’t yet sure whether BetRivers will enter the Kentucky market.
Best online sports betting apps in Kentucky
There is still uncertainty about which online sportsbooks will come to Kentucky. The law allows race tracks each to have up to three online licenses, meaning there could potentially be more than two dozen sites although the final total will likely be less.
Chances are good that several popular online sportsbooks already established and operating in other states will secure partnerships with KY racetracks and become available.
Since Kentucky has no retail casinos, the only significant gambling company in the state is Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), the parent company of Churchill Downs in Louisville where the Kentucky Derby runs each spring.
CDI has experience with online sports betting after launching BetAmerica in 2018, later rebranding as TwinSpires. The TwinSpires Sportsbook had operated in more than a half-dozen states, but in 2022 CDI announced it was shutting down its TwinSpires online casinos and sportsbooks.
Setting CDI aside, then, we can expect other big online sportsbooks to find their way into KY to operate sites for the racetracks.
Here are the top 6 Kentucky sports betting candidates
1. DraftKings Sportsbook
DraftKings Sportsbook has launched a sportsbook in practically every state where it is legal to do so, which means DraftKings Sportsbook Kentucky will likely launch. Kentuckians are already familiar with the DK daily fantasy sports site, of course. DraftKings also recently launched its new horse racing app, DK Horse, in Kentucky. The site and app are especially well-designed, with the wide array of live betting options one of many positives at DraftKings Sportsbook.
2. BetMGM Sportsbook
BetMGM Sportsbook stems from another globally known brand. It’s the sports betting arm of MGM Resorts International and Entain. Inspired by the lion in its logo, BetMGM Sportsbook describes itself as the “King of Sportsbooks.” The site offers the usual menu of moneylines, point spreads, totals, parlays, props and futures bets alongside live betting options in a wide range of markets. BetMGM Sportsbook Kentucky will be a top option in the Bluegrass State.
3. FanDuel Sportsbook
FanDuel Sportsbook is also a known brand in KY thanks to its popular DFS site and app. Like DraftKings, the FanDuel Sportsbook is already a favorite online choice for sports bettors in many states. Along with DK, FanDuel was a strong proponent of KY sports betting when the bill was being advanced. FanDuel Sportsbook Kentucky will stand out in several ways, including its popular same game parlay offerings, special daily contests and daily odds boost feature.
4. Caesars Sportsbook
Caesars Sportsbook has fast become another popular online sportsbook in the states where it has launched. It takes advantage of the famous Caesars Entertainment name and uses many national promotions to increase the site’s profile. Caesars Kentucky will offer a wide range of markets and bet types, and bettors will be able to participate in the world-renowned Caesars Rewards program.
It has already secured its spot among Kentucky sportsbooks, as Caesars partnered with Keeneland and The Red Mile for retail sportsbooks and a KY sportsbook app.
5. Bet365 Sportsbook
Bet365 Sportsbook promotes itself as the “world’s favorite sportsbook” and it has a 20-year track record to back up that claim. It began in the United Kingdom but Bet365 has spread its tentacles over the Atlantic Ocean since sports betting began spreading in the US in 2018. Today, Bet365 is active in New Jersey, Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, but it has its sights set on launching in more states soon. Bet365 Kentucky would be a quality option, with 30% SGP boosts and an extensive worldwide menu of sports betting options headlining the app.
6. BetRivers Sportsbook
BetRivers Sportsbook could be another option for Kentucky sports bettors when the time comes. Operated by Rush Street Interactive, BetRivers is available in several states and operates the Rivers Casino Des Plaines in nearby Illinois. Though the company has opted out of states like Massachusetts lately, BetRivers Sportsbook features many of the same features and options as the apps listed above, plus generous welcome offers and ongoing promotions.
BetRivers is still deciding whether to enter Kentucky when the state launches sportsbooks.
One reason Kentucky was eager to legalize sports betting is the fact that out of the seven states that border this landlocked state, six already have online sports betting (only Missouri does not). Five of the six online sportsbooks listed above are live in those six states.
Retail sports betting locations in Kentucky
The KHRC will issue sports wagering licenses to entities that presently have racetrack licenses. Here are the racetracks where retail sportsbooks will be able to open:
- Churchill Downs (Louisville)
- Cumberland Run (Corbin)
- Ellis Park (Henderson)
- Keeneland (Lexington)
- Kentucky Downs (Franklin)
- Oak Grove Racing & Gaming (Oak Grove)
- The Red Mile (Lexington)
- Revolutionary Racing (Ashland)
- Turfway Park (Florence)
- Kentucky Speedway (Sparta Kentucky)
Two of the above-listed tracks have yet to open. Cumberland Run is due to start running races in 2023, while Revolutionary Racing is targeting the 2024 season to open.
Note that simulcast facilities can also have retail sportsbooks via the partner of their parent racetracks.
On May 16, Caesars Sportsbook announced a partnership with Keeneland and The Red Mile. The gaming giant will operate the retail sportsbook at those two locations and ensures the company’s online operations will be available at launch in the Bluegrass State.
Furthermore, it marks the first of what will be several partnerships surrounding Kentucky sports betting.
Both tracks are owned by Keeneland Association Inc., located in Lexington, and have begun planning their Caesars-branded sportsbooks. The Red Mile will call its Caesars Sportsbook “The Red Room.”
Both retail sportsbooks should be completed by the start of the 2023 NFL season, which coincides with when Beshear wants the industry to launch. The bill stated sports betting must launch six months after the Attorney General enacts the legislation. In an absolute worst-case scenario for Kentucky bettors, sports betting will be available on Dec. 28.
Kentucky sports teams to bet on
Kentucky has legalized betting on professional and collegiate sports. There are several colleges and universities in the state with high-profile NCAA teams, though a few stand out as especially popular.
Known best for its historical success in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Kentucky Wildcats also field a football team that has recently emerged as a national contender. Both teams play in the always-competitive Southeastern Conference (SEC).
The Kentucky basketball program counts eight NCAA titles, the most recent coming in 2012. It has the highest winning percentage and second-most wins in NCAA history. Meanwhile, the football team has made bowl game appearances annually in recent years.
The Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball team has also enjoyed significant success over the years, making numerous Final Fours and winning two NCAA titles in 1980 and 1986. (A third title from 2013 was later vacated.)
The Louisville football team has also posted winning records and made bowl games in recent years. Both Louisville teams compete in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Don’t forget about the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers men’s basketball team, either, playing out of Conference USA. The team put together a run of NCAA tournament appearances during the 2000s and 2010s, making the Sweet Sixteen in 2008. Earlier, the team made a Final Four in 1971.
While there are no major professional teams in KY, there are quite a few in nearby states, including:
- Illinois: Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox (MLB)
- Indiana: Indiana Pacers (NBA), Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
- Missouri: St. Louis Blues (NHL), St. Louis Cardinals (MLB), Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)
- Ohio: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns (NFL), Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians (MLB), Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
- Tennessee: Memphis Grizzlies (NBA), Nashville Predators (NHL), Tennessee Titans (NFL)
Other gambling options in Kentucky
Although Kentuckians will have to wait until late 2023 to place legal sports bets, they can legally bet on horse races in Kentucky and across the world right now. Horse betting in Kentucky is 100% legal via online apps like FanDuel Racing Kentucky, or in-person at the state’s racetracks and simulcast facilities.
Daily fantasy sports
Daily fantasy sports is legal in Kentucky, as well, providing bettors with daily contests for chances to win money. DraftKings DFS and FanDuel DFS dominate the industry. But other platforms, such as Boom Fantasy and Jock MKT, are trying to carve out their niche.
History of Kentucky sports betting
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to lift the federal ban on sports betting, thereby making it possible for states other than Nevada to consider legalizing it. Kentucky lawmakers immediately created a panel to study whether KY might want to legalize sports betting.
By 2019, multiple sports betting bills were being introduced by lawmakers. Of these, Rep. Adam Koenig’s bill to legalize sports betting, daily fantasy sports, and online poker made it through a committee but failed to advance any further.
Then, it appeared for a time in 2020 that KY might pass a bill. Proponents were gaining momentum, and Gov. Andy Beshear spoke out in its favor. Rep. Koenig pushed a new bill through the committee, but it also failed to move forward.
Three more sports betting bills arrived in 2021, though each failed to get out of committee.
Then, Rep. Koenig tried again in 2022 with HB 606, this time making it through a House committee and receiving a favorable 58-30 from the entire House. But the Senate chose not to vote on it, letting the bill die.
Finally, in 2023, it was Rep. Michael Meredith’s HB 551 authorizing the state’s racetracks to offer retail and online sports betting that was passed into law.
The House approved it by a 63-34 margin. A couple of weeks later, the Senate passed it as well by a 25-12 vote on the final day of the legislative session. The bill needed 60% to vote in favor, which meant it passed the Senate with a couple of votes to spare. Gov. Beshear then signed the bill into law on Mar. 31, 2023, officially legalizing sports betting in Kentucky.
Kentucky Sports Betting FAQ
According to the Kentucky sports betting bill, sportsbooks must go live by Dec. 28, 2023, at the latest. However, industry experts believe sports betting in Kentucky will launch before then. State lawmakers are hoping for a launch before the NFL season begins on Sept. 7.
That quick of a turnaround would be a tall task for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is in charge of regulating KY sports betting. But it’s not impossible.
There are no sports betting apps in Kentucky right now. However, you can expect all the major brands to launch when sports betting in Kentucky eventually launches — by Dec. 28, 2023, at the latest.
In fact, Caesars Sportsbook has already inked a deal with Keeneland and The Red Mile for retail sportsbooks and an online sportsbook app in Kentucky.
Kentucky is rare among U.S. states with legal sports betting because its minimum age to wager is 18. Most states require sports bettors to be at least 21. In Kentucky, sports betting has been linked with wagering on horse races for which the minimum age to bet is 18.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was a logical choice to be the state’s sports betting regulatory body given its prominence in regulating horse betting in Kentucky.
Yes, you can bet on college sports in Kentucky, including contests involving KY schools. The bill allows wagering on professional sports, college sports, amateur sports (although not if they involve participants younger than 18), as well as international sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup. You can also bet on esports in KY.
No, you don’t need to live in Kentucky to place a sports bet at a Kentucky online sportsbook. However, you do have to be physically located within the state. The online sportsbooks use geolocation technology to ensure you are within state lines before allowing you to make any bets. But you can create an account and even deposit funds from elsewhere.
According to the new law, sports wagering licenses cost $500,000 for the first year and then $50,000 annually thereafter. Meanwhile, the provider licenses cost $50,000 for the first year and $10,000 per year after that. Tax is 14.25% for online wagering revenue and 9.75% for in-person revenue. From that total, 2.5% of the taxes are reserved to help prevent and treat problem gambling.