What to know a week out from legal sports betting

Published 2:51 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

In a last-minute, narrow vote in March, the General Assembly legalized sports wagering in Kentucky.

A week from now, nine of the state’s race tracks will launch their in-person, retail sports books, allowing visitors to place bets on various sporting events.

In-person bets will open at 10 a.m. EST on Sept. 7 at the following brick-and-mortar locations, according to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission:

  • Churchill Downs, Louisville;
  • Derby City Gaming, Louisville;
  • Ellis Park, Henderson;
  • The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland Run, Corbin;
  • The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland, Williamsburg;
  • Newport Racing and Gaming, Newport;
  • Oak Grove Gaming and Racing, Oak Grove;
  • The Red Mile, Lexington; and
  • Turfway Park, Florence.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission also preemptively issued temporary licenses for several facilities that haven’t opened yet, including Derby City Gamingm, Ellis Park in Owensboro and Sandy’s Gaming and Racing in Ashland.

According to the law, each track can partner with up to three service providers to operate their retail and/or mobile sports books.

The approved service providers are DarftKings, Fanduel, Caesers, Kambi, Fanatics, Penn Sports Interactive, BetMZGM, Circa Sports and Bet365.

Caesers, DraftKings and BetMGM have created partnerships for retail and mobile betting and Kambi is solely a retail partner.

People play at the gaming center at Red Mile in Lexington, where the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission officially approved emergency regulations for sports betting at Kentucky’s tracks on Monday, July 10, 2023.

According to the KHRC, the current partnerships are:

  • Churchill Downs and Derby City Gaming with Kambi;
  • Ellis Park Henderson with Kambi and Penn Sports Interactive;
  • The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland Run in Corbin and Williamsburg with DraftKings and Circa Sports;
  • Turfway Park and Newport Racing and Gaming with Fanduel;
  • Oak Grove Gaming and Racing with Fanatics and Kambi;
  • The Red Mile with Caesers; and
  • Sandy’s Gaming and Racing with Bet365 and BetMGM.

Mobile betting will officially launch Sept. 28, but Kentuckians can pre-register now with approved mobile applications and put money into their accounts Sept. 7.

Having a variety of service providers across the state’s facilities will increase traffic and competition, said John Wholihan, Kentucky Downs marketing director.

“It’s really good for the players in the state of Kentucky, because then they can shop lines at different places,” Wholihan said. “If everybody was DraftKings, if everybody was Caesers, if everyone was betMGM, you’d sign up for one account and you’d just be done.”

Legalized sports betting is expected to bring in $23 million in annual revenue once it is fully implemented, with a 9.75% excise tax on in-person bets and a 14.25% tax on online bets.

Tracks and service providers also have to pay the racing commission for initial licensing and annual renewals.

The money will go first to sports wagering oversight by the KHRC, 2.5% will be dedicated to a problem gaming fund and the rest will contribute to Kentucky’s pension fund.

KHRC Deputy Executive Director Was Ahmed said in July that the commission is dedicated to high standards of safety.

“To ensure that licensees maintain high standards, we have implemented measures to discourage false or misleading advertising or marketing practices,” he said. “Furthermore, we have established a stringent system of disciplinary actions against licensees and their employees.”