The first legal sports betting wagers in Kentucky history were placed Thursday morning at venues across the state.
Gov. Andy Beshear placed the first sports bet at Churchill Downs in Louisville as Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, made the first bet at Lexington’s Red Mile.
“Many people have been waiting for this day for a long time, and I am honored to be here in my backyard, with my friend Rep. Meredith and our colleagues, to celebrate a win for freedom and the Commonwealth,” Thayer said after placing the first bet at the Red Mile. “For years, those of us here today have advocated for sports betting and did so with the support of millions of Kentuckians. The legislature listened, we took action, and starting today, no Kentuckian will ever have to take their hard-earned money to another state just to place a sports bet.”
Kentuckians can now place bets in person at licensed retail locations and Kentucky horse parks.
“Today is a great day to celebrate and have a little bit of fun doing so,” said Gov. Beshear. “It has taken many years to get here, but sports wagering is finally a reality in Kentucky. 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.”
House Bill 551 established a new excise tax on sports wagering: 9.75% on the adjusted gross revenues on wagers made at a licensed facility and 14.25% on bets placed online or on a smartphone.
After full implementation, sports wagering is expected to increase the state’s revenue by an estimated $23 million a year. The increase in revenue will support the oversight of sports wagering and then be dedicated to the Kentucky permanent pension fund.
Additionally, 2.5% will support the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund. The fund educates Kentuckians on safe gambling practices, the risks of developing a gambling problem, risk factors and warning signs of gambling problems, and available services to reduce the consequences of problem gambling.
Kentucky chose a tiered implementation of sports wagering, which allows for testing policies and procedures before the full rollout that includes mobile applications. Online sports betting will launch on September 28.