Gov. Beshear To Place First Legal Sports Wager in Kentucky

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Barely six months after signing legislation to make Kentucky sports betting a reality, Gov. Andy Beshear will be first in line to support the industry.

During his weekly “Team Kentucky” update on Aug. 24, Beshear announced he will place the first ceremonial sports wager in the state at Churchill Downs Racetrack when sports betting launches at retail locations at 10 a.m. ET on Sept. 7. After years of stymied efforts to legalize sports wagering in Kentucky, Beshear signed House Bill 551, which allows both in-person and online sportsbooks in the Bluegrass State, into law on March 31, 2023.

“Two weeks from today, I’ll be making the first sports wager in Kentucky at the iconic Churchill Downs Racetrack at 10 a.m. Sept. 7,” Beshear said during his press conference.” By finally passing sports betting, we’re giving people what they want. They can spend their entertainment dollars here instead of going to other states. And we expect to see at least $23 million in state revenue that we can continue to invest.”

Gov. Andy Beshear will place the first legal sports wager in Kentucky on Sept. 7, 2023.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

8 Online Sportsbooks Approved to Launch Sept. 28

Beshear’s announcement of his first intended wager comes two days after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted to approve temporary licenses for nine service providers, eight of which can operate mobile applications when online sports betting goes live in Kentucky at 6 a.m. ET on Sept. 28. The eight sportsbooks licensed to operate a mobile sports wagering app starting Sept. 28 are:

  • Bet365
  • BetMGM
  • Caesars
  • Circa
  • DraftKings
  • Fanatics
  • FanDuel
  • Penn Sports Interactive

Kentuckians can pre-register a sports betting account with approved mobile operators beginning Monday, Aug. 28 at 6 a.m. ET. Kambi was approved as a service provider for retail operations and will not have a mobile application.

A temporary license grants up to one year of operation in the state while under continued review.

CDI Properties Ready to Go for Retail Kentucky Launch

In addition to the nine sports wagering operators and service providers, the KHRC also approved temporary licenses for seven licensed horse racetracks and their satellite facilities.

Churchill Downs Inc. announced on Aug. 23 that its six CDI properties will indeed be ready to begin accepting in-person sports wagers on Sept. 7. The company will operate race and sports books at its racetracks and Historical Racing Machine (“HRM”) facilities in Kentucky including Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Derby City Gaming & Hotel in Louisville, Turfway Park Racing & Gaming in Florence, Newport Racing & Gaming in Newport, Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel in Oak Grove and Ellis Park Racing & Gaming in Henderson.

“CDI is excited to bring our experience operating retail sports wagering experiences to Kentucky with many thanks to the Kentucky General Assembly, Governor Beshear, the KHRC and the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet for their efforts in making this a reality,” Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI, said in a release. “Sports betting as a tourism and economic development opportunity will further strengthen the state’s signature equine industry by bringing new guests into our live and historical racing venues.”

Beshear added during his press conference that “as long as an (approved) brick-and-mortar location is open, you will be able to place a bet on Sept. 7.”

In-Person Betting in Kentucky Set for NFL, College Football Season

With retail sports betting set to go live on Sept. 7, Kentucky residents will be able to wager on the opening day of the 2023 NFL season. Residents will also be able to bet on the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville college football teams, respectively, as both will be in action that week.

The Louisville Cardinals are set to host Murray State on Sept. 7 while the Kentucky Wildcats host Eastern Kentucky University on Sept. 9. 

“You can guess online what the bets are going to be,” Beshear said of his ceremonial wager. “I’ll be ready to support our in-state schools and, of course, to root against (longtime Kentucky rival) Duke.”

About the Author
Alicia Hughes

Alicia Hughes

Senior Writer
Alicia Hughes is a senior writer and award-winning horse racing journalist at Gaming Today. She previously served as a digital content editor for TVG and racing editor for The Blood-Horse following 12 years at the Lexington Herald-Leader. A graduate of Pace University in New York and a diehard New Jersey Devils fan, Hughes is a past president of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association.

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