Kentucky Sportsbooks Embrace First Wagers

Posted on: September 7, 2023, 04:08h.

Last updated on: September 7, 2023, 04:08h.

On September 7, 2023, Governor Andy Beshar made a significant move to kickstart legal sports betting in Kentucky. Retail sportsbooks across the Bluegrass State opened their doors on this historic day.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delivers remarks at Churchill Downs prior to placing the first legal sports bet in the state Sept. 7. The governor has made legal sports betting a key plank in his re-election campaign this year.

Beshar strategically placed a three-way parlay as his first bet. He bet $20 on the universities of Louisville and Kentucky hitting the over in wins for the football season, while betting Duke would hit the under. This move carries political implications as Election Day is just around the corner, with Beshar making sports betting legalization a significant aspect of his re-election campaign.

Speaking about this momentous occasion, Beshar stated, “Today is a great day to celebrate and have a little bit of fun doing so. 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 while benefiting from funds that stay within our state to build a better Kentucky.”

The first bet was placed at Churchill Downs in Louisville, with a later bet at the Red Mile in Lexington. The bipartisan sports betting law, signed by the governor in March, was expedited to enable bets to be placed in time for the NFL season. Physical wagering began on this day at horse tracks and off-site facilities throughout Kentucky, with mobile sportsbooks scheduled to start accepting bets on September 28.

Election Season

Beshar has consistently expressed his support for the sports betting law, considering it one of his notable achievements. His opponent in the upcoming election, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, has focused heavily on conservative culture war attacks during his campaign. Cameron previously stated that he “didn’t think much” of sports betting but would support legalization with the proper regulatory framework.

Regarding Beshar’s role in sports betting, a spokesman for Cameron attempted to downplay it, stating, “The legislature deserves the credit for moving this ball down the field. Beshear once again is trying to take credit for this victory when all he did was cheer from the sidelines.” Despite these political tensions, Beshar emphasized the collaboration with the Kentucky legislature and urged everyone to celebrate the legalization of sports betting without involving unnecessary politics.

It remains to be seen how this move will impact Beshar’s November election, but the debate over who deserves credit indicates that both parties recognize the popularity of this issue among voters. In the political betting markets, Beshar currently has an advantage, with shares in a Democratic victory in Kentucky trading for 72 cents on PredictIt.

Economic Impact

The new law in Kentucky is projected to generate at least $23 million annually, primarily allocated to public pensions. Additionally, a problem gambling fund will receive 2.5% of the proceeds. In-person wagers, like those placed on the first day, will be taxed at a rate of 9.75%, while mobile sportsbooks will be subject to a 14.25% tax rate when they commence operations later this month.

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