September 28 marks an important day for the gambling industry in Kentucky as since 6 a.m. sports betting has officially launched in the Bluegrass State. Sports fans can now start downloading apps and placing legal wagers on their smartphones and other devices.
Earlier this month, retail betting launched in Kentucky with Governor Andy Beshear placing the ceremonial first sports bet at Churchill Downs. On September 7th, eight sportsbook locations launched in the state. And last week, Beshear said Kentucky brought in $4.5 million in the first two weeks of onsite wagering. Now with online bets added to the equation, competition for wagers goes up along with the potential revenue for the state.
Eight online betting platforms have been granted temporary licenses, including BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, Circa, Bet365, FanDuel, Penn, and Fanatics, although Circa won't launch until later this year. A number of those providers will also operate the retail sportsbooks in person at tracks and gaming facilities. A ninth provider, Kambi, offering retail only was also licensed. Among these, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Bet365 offered incentives for Kentucky residents who downloaded the apps and set up accounts.
DraftKings last month reached an agreement with ECL Corbin, a wholly owned subsidiary of ECL Entertainment, giving the digital sports entertainment and gaming company access to operate online sports betting in the Commonwealth. Moreover, the operator teamed up with popular Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) host Matt Jones who will be hosting his show live from the newly opened retail sportsbook and placing a ceremonial first bet via the DraftKings Sportsbook app.
The sportsbook offers Kentucky customers access to place a variety of bets, such as same-game parlays, in-game betting options, player props, special odds boost selections, and more. In addition to its online sportsbook, Kentucky sports bettors can also place wagers in person at the DraftKings Sportsbook located at The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland in Williamsburg and Cumberland Run in Corbin.
“Kentucky marks the 24th Jurisdiction overall where DraftKings is live, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver sports fans across Kentucky with our safe and legal mobile DraftKings Sportsbook app,” said Matt Kalish, President, DraftKings North America. “It’s an exciting time of year with the NFL and college football seasons currently underway, and we look forward to being the ultimate host, providing customers with a seamless and enjoyable sports betting experience.”
Fanatics also launched its sportsbook which is already available for download on iOS and Android. New customers can get themselves a new jersey by signing up and placing a qualifying wager on Fanatics Sportsbook.
Customers need to place a single cash wager of $50 or more on any market (minimum -500 odds) and receive a reward credit to purchase merchandise from a sports team worth up to $150. Moreover, the Fanatics Sportsbook offers customers up to 5% back in FanCash on bets.
FanDuel is also now available across Kentucky. Kentucky customers who sign up and wager $5 will receive $200 in Bonus Bets and can access special offers on local sports teams.
Christian Genetski, FanDuel's President, said: "FanDuel has established a significant legacy among sports fans in Kentucky through partnerships with Kentucky mainstay Churchill Downs and the Cincinnati Reds right over the border."
"With our brand's history and dedication to the sport of horse racing and our focus on providing our users with the best possible sports wagering experience, we feel uniquely equipped to serve the passionate sports fans of Kentucky," he added.
It should be noted that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved eight race tracks and gaming facilities to partner with sportsbooks, including Churchill Downs, Derby City Gaming, Cumberland Run, Ellis Park, Oak Grove, Red Mile, Sandy’s Gaming and Racing, and Turfway Park.
Kentucky lawmakers established a new excise tax on sports wagering of 9.75% on the adjusted gross revenues on wagers made at a licensed facility and 14.25% on wagers placed online or on a smartphone.
Once fully implemented, sports wagering is projected to generate about $23 million in yearly revenue for the state, although some supporters predict higher amounts. Most of the revenue will flow into Kentucky’s public pension system. It also will stop the siphoning off revenue to other states where Kentuckians previously placed sports bets, supporters said.
However, critics of sports betting see it as an addictive form of gambling that will hurt Kentucky families. A small percentage of sports wagering tax revenue will flow into a fund to help combat problem gambling.