Kentucky Governor Places $20 Bet at Churchill Downs to Kick Off Legal Sports Betting

  • The governor placed a season-long three-leg college football parlay
  • Online sportsbooks will be able to launch in the state on September 28
  • Lawmakers approved sports betting legislation in late March
Louisville football
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear kicked off legal sports betting in the state with a $20 wager on Thursday. [Image:]

A momentous day

Legal sports betting is now up and running in Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear placed the first wager at the Churchill Downs racetrack on Thursday, staking $20 on a three-leg parlay involving multiple in-state college teams.

winnings from the wager will go to the Louisville Sports Commission

He believes that the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky football teams will be victorious in more games this season than what the operators predict. He also bet on Duke winning fewer football games than the current projections. Any winnings from the wager will go to the Louisville Sports Commission.

The Democratic governor fulfilled his pledge of having legal sports betting live in time for the start of the NFL season, with the opening game kicking off on Thursday night. The Detroit Lions surprisingly beat Super Bowl LVII champions Kansas City Chiefs by a single point. Talking about the momentous day, Governor Beshear said: “It’s what Kentuckians were looking for. It’s going to boost tourism.”

Legalization will benefit the state

Retail sportsbooks launched across the state on Thursday, though online platforms will not go live until September 28. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, a key driver for wagering legislation, placed a bet at a new sportsbook in Lexington. He is happy that Kentuckians no longer have to go out of state to engage in legal sports betting.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is running for re-election in November and is touting the introduction of sports betting as a reason for people to vote him in for a second term in office.

The expectation is that the state of Kentucky will benefit to the tune of about $23m each year from the activity. The majority of this money will go into the public pension system, with a portion going to problem gambling assistance services.

A 9.75% tax rate is in place for retail revenue, rising to 14.25% for online offerings. The initial license fee is $500,000 and renewals are $50,000; each online operator must partner with a racetrack in order to get the green light to launch.

A long time coming

Sports betting legalization was a contentious topic for many years among lawmakers. Legislation finally got over the line in March during the last few hours of the legislative session and the governor did not waste any time before signing it into law.

Kentucky is the 38th US state to legalize sports betting, with most neighboring states already having live sportsbooks.

All of the racetracks in Kentucky can open a retail sportsbook, as well as have similar offerings at satellite locations. Seven racetracks have received temporary licenses and nine online operators have been approved so far. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is in charge of overseeing the sector.

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