Kentucky Prepares For Sports Betting

August 14, 2023 | Sports Betting

KENTUCKY (August 13, 2023) — Sports betting in Kentucky will impact many in the Commonwealth, but certainly could have a strong role in the west — where both Oak Grove Racing and Gaming, as well as Henderson’s Ellis Park, attract thousands annually.

Steve Bittenbender, a long-time freelancer and main resource for, has several details regarding the state’s next small steps.

In regard to legislation, he notes there could be up to 27 online applications available to bettors by the end of September, but in actuality, it’s likely going to be a much smaller pool. Surrounding states like Indiana and Tennessee only have 13. Ohio has 18. And as such, “8-to-12 sportsbooks in the first few months is realistic,” and some operators have told him they may look to enter Kentucky later.

A $50,000 application fee is a “low barrier to entry,” so there should be “plenty of interest.”

A number frequently tossed around in annual revenue discussions is $23 million. Bittenbender notes those are the same projections tossed around years ago, when sports betting first made its way to the Kentucky General Assembly floor.

While tax rates haven’t changed, Bittenbender said sportsbooks are “savvier now,” and in response, they’re pushing products like “same game parlays” with higher win rates for the house. He adds that this is already having an impact on neighboring states, with Indiana reporting seven straight months of sportsbook revenue growth on the eve of Ohio launching its legal sports betting in January.

Since the beginning of 2023, Indiana’s handle is down 11.5%, but sportsbooks’ reported revenue is up 18.6%. This means, Bittenbender said, that revenue in Kentucky could be higher than originally forecasted.

Minimum age requirements have been a hot-button issue, as well, on whether to allow those 18 and older, as opposed to 21 and older. Bittenbender points out that all six legal states around Kentucky have set their age requirements to 21, but the Commonwealth will be lower.

Sportsbooks, however, will have the option to increase their age, should they so choose.

As for the overall experience? Bittenbender said many Kentuckians have been wagering at the track “for years.” Anyone new to betting will quickly discover that “odds in place…will be odds they get,” since sports betting is not pari-mutuel.

Choices won’t get “bet down” before the beginning of contests.

By: Steve Bittenbender (Bittenbender’s work can also be found on Twitter/X: @BittGDCG).


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