Kentucky Sports Betting Racks up Over $72.5 Million in Wagers in First Month

Kentucky has wagered over $72.5 million on sports since the state launched legal sports betting four weeks ago.

The total includes $68 million wagered over four days last weekend after mobile sports betting launched statewide on Sept. 28 as well as $4.5 million in retail wagers placed between Sept. 7 and Sept. 21. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the weekend handle during his scheduled weekly update on Thursday. Retail handle from earlier in September was announced by the governor on Sept. 21. 

State tax revenue generated from legal sports betting in Kentucky to date has not yet been reported, but is expected to be released this fall. Kentucky taxes online bets at 14.25 percent and retail bets at 9.75 percent as required by 2023 House Bill 551, the state’s sports betting law. 

“Kentuckians are taking advantage of legal wagering both in-person and through mobile applications to bet on a growing number of sports, including NFL, college sports, Formula 1 racing, and more,” Beshear said Thursday. “Now we can look forward to watching these numbers grow and seeing the revenue it generates help build a better Kentucky.”

Sports betting launched in the state at nine retail locations on Sept. 7. Seven apps went live on Sept. 28. More retail locations and apps – including the Circa Sports Kentucky app and a rebranding of Barstool to Penn’s ESPN Bet. The ESPN Bet bonus code is expected to go live in the near future. 

Kentucky Early Sports Betting Handle Similar to Louisiana

Kentucky’s handle to date is similar to early wagering in Louisiana, where total wagers for the first month of retail and online sports betting totaled $68 million, according to revenue reports from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. 

Both states staggered their retail and mobile sports betting launches, although Louisiana launched retail three months before going online on Jan. 28, 2022. Retail handle in Louisiana for the first month (Nov. 2021) totaled $27.6 million, with four casino sportsbooks opening between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. The other four sportsbooks were only open for 18 to 20 days that first month. 

Then came online sports betting. Like Kentucky, opening online sportsbook handle in Louisiana was a weekend blowout. 

According to the LGCB, a total of $40.4 million was wagered on six sportsbook apps in the first weekend after Louisiana’s statewide launch on Jan. 28. Mobile GGR that weekend was $8.9 million, generating $1.3 million in state revenue.

Louisiana – which has a similar population to Kentucky at around 4.5 to 4.6 million people plus a similar sports betting tax rate of 10 percent retail and 15 percent online –  reportedly generated approximately $32 million in total sports betting revenue for 2022. That’s about $9 million more than Beshear says he anticipates once all licensed sportsbooks are up and running. 

How Close Could Kentucky Mirror Colorado? 

Another comparison worth making is Colorado – a state with a moderately larger population than Kentucky that had a similar sports betting start in terms of handle.

The Centennial State launched sports betting on May 1, 2020, with online apps opening first, followed by a limited number of retail openings in June. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, online sports betting handle for May 2020 totaled $25.6 million. In June, the state reported a combined retail and online handle of $38.1 million for the month. 

Today, Colorado’s monthly sports betting handle is consistently in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The state has generated $48.3 million in state revenue (at a tax rate of 10 percent) based on GGR of $882.5 million and a total handle of more than $13 billion.  

Granted, Colorado is a state of 5.8 million people with pro sports franchises and a vastly different economy. But its record is one Kentucky may hope to emulate as the Bluegrass State’s sports betting market continues to grow. 

According to a statement released on Sept. 21 by Beshear’s office, the governor is optimistic about what’s ahead. 

“With college football and the NFL season underway, plus the launch of mobile wagering, we expect (handle) will grow significantly,”  Beshear said. “This is a win-win for Kentuckians, who can enjoy a quality entertainment experience and benefit from funds staying right here in our state to help us build a better Kentucky.”

About the Author
Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett

Legislative Writer
Based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, Hanchett has been known to watch UK. basketball from time to time.

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