Kentucky Sports Betting 2023

Sports betting became legal in the state of Kentucky on March 31, 2023, after Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 551 into law. The measure was the first sports betting legislation to successfully pass in both the state House and Senate. There is currently no set date for the launch as of yet.

Kentucky sports betting status

Sports betting is legal in Kentucky thanks to HB 551 passing in both chambers and being signed into law. The Senate voted in favor of the measure 25-15 after the bill had already passed 63-34 in the House. Gov. Beshear signed the measure just one day after it passed in the Senate.

When the measure first made it to the Senate there was cautious optimism. Bill sponsor Rep. Michael Meredith believed the votes were there. Speaking with members of the Senate during the 10-day veto recess, Meredith felt the bill had a chance. Even with a 23-vote threshold to cover which is a strong feat.

There was a reason for optimism. The measure would go on to pass in the Senate to a 25-15 vote on March 30.

History of sports wagering legislation

In the summer of 2017, State Senator Julian Carroll introduced a sports betting bill. This would allow the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to regulate and oversee a sports gambling industry.

This early bill called for a $250,000 licensing fee and a 20 percent tax on the total amount of wagers. A few months later, a bill was introduced regarding the construction of casinos in Kentucky. This clouded the issues surrounding sports gambling. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin went on record in his opposition of casinos within state borders.

Yet after the SCOTUS decision in May, Bevin said he expected his legislature to do more research on the possibility of sports betting in Kentucky.

The result: A nine-member legislative panel dedicated to “draft and file legislation to implement sports betting in Kentucky.”

Senator Carroll, who is on the panel board, continues to push for a sports betting industry with the Horse Racing Commission at the forefront of regulation. However, the 20 percent handle proposed on Carroll’s bill creates steadfast opposition.

House bill H 536 proposed allowing the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to regulate the industry, similar to the existing structure in Delaware.

While the current Governor remains publicly skeptical about sports wagering in Kentucky, all nine panel members supported sports betting and the state’s highly successful horse racing tracks are also keen to expand the offerings at their facilities.

In 2019, Gov. Andy Beshear took office and had a different view on sports betting than Gov. Bevin. Beshear publicly endorsed sports betting and helped push the market towards eventual regualtions.

With its close proximity to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware – four of the quickest movers in terms of legalized sports gambling – Kentucky was forced to act fast or lose a steady source of revenue to those neighboring states.

In 2023, lawmakers advanced HB 551. This measure legalized both retail and online sports betting in the Bluegrass State. Gov. Beshear signed the measure into law after it advanced in both chambers. Now lawmakers need only finalize the regulations for the market to launch.

Sports Betting FAQ

When will sports betting be legal in Kentucky?

With HB 551 signed into law, sports betting will be live in Kentucky sooner than later. If lawmakers can successfully complete regulations, the market could be live before the end of 2023.

Where can I place sports bets in Kentucky?

Nowhere yet, as sports gambling has not yet launched in Kentucky.

Which Kentucky sports teams can I bet on?

The law allows for betting on professional sports and collegiate teams. There are several popular collegiate programs within the state, including the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

Who will oversee it?

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) will regulate and oversee the sports betting industry in Kentucky.

Can I get into trouble for placing bets with unregulated online sportsbooks in Kentucky?

Yes, in order for a sportsbook to be legal it must be sanctioned by the state and placing bets with an unregulated bookkeeper can result in fines and potential jail time.