Online Gambling in
Kentucky

Much was expected of Kentucky sports betting in 2020. But with the bill effectively dead, the Bluegrass State is expected to return and try again in 2021.

Kentucky

There are currently no legal online gambling options in KY

Legal Gambling in Kentucky

Sports betting is alive and kicking in the US. Since the decision by the Supreme Court to deem PASPA unconstitutional in May 2018 the industry has been launched in eight states with that number set to more than double by the end of 2019.

Shortly, it will be the Kentucky's turn as the state is viewed as a significant player in terms of gambling already given its rich history in horse racing.

Along with Connecticut, Michigan, Illinois and Massachusetts, The Bluegrass State are heading the second wave of states to have passed sports betting bills but sit without a regulatory framework in place to fully enact the legislation.

Currently, BR15 and BR320, both with similar frameworks headed by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation, have been put forward.

They differ in how they’d be regulated with the creation of the ‘Kentucky Gaming Commission’ one option, and the already established Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the other.

It’s thought one more legislative process may be enough to iron out the outstanding issues needed for a regulated framework to then be introduced.

With bills on the table and already under consideration, 2019 is looking very promising for sports betting in Kentucky.

Online sports betting in Kentucky

While the subject of online sports betting continues to hamper the legislative process of some states, the potential for online sports betting in Kentucky is high.

Churchill Downs Racetrack already operates a website which enables wagering on horse racing for KY residents. Even more intriguing is its availability via mobile devices.

The state lottery is also available online and has worked well since its launch in 2016.

These factors along with the fact that there are currently no casinos or gambling establishments operating in the state, further boosts the probability of Kentucky residents being able to wager online at some point in the very near future.

Laws and Regulations

Laws and Regulations

- Sports betting forbidden under current legislation

- Horse racing and state lottery permitted

- Must be 18 to wager at racetracks or on the lottery

Current Situation

Where are we with KY sports betting?

The Bluegrass state is drawing ever closer to the prospect of sports betting and is expected to be among the first movers of 2019.

But before the legislation is fully ratified, the following points, which must suit all parties including legislators, betting operators, sporting bodies and, of course, the people of Kentucky, need addressing:

- Competitive tax rates

It’s true that the state will look to fund its pension crisis but the tax levy needs to be competitive and in line with the percentage set in nearby states. There’s the risk that a high charge could result in sportsbooks turning their backs on a state lacking professional sports teams and without any prior history of sports betting.

- Integrity monitoring systems

The subject of an integrity fee has become one of the hotly debated issues states have had to contend ever since PASPA was struck down.

The sporting bodies of the pro sports leagues - in particular the NBA and MLB - have tried, in vain for the most part, to negotiate a fee for the use of their product and profit from the vast sums of money expected to be made by the sportsbooks.

Their stand on the introduction of statewide sports betting is the cost of preserving the integrity of their respective sport. Whilst, the leagues already stand to benefit financially from the exposure sports betting would bring, they feel they need to be compensated for the costs involved in monitoring integrity - for example monitoring systems and the additional workforce needed to help regulate the industry.

In terms of Kentucky, the sports leagues are pushing for a 1% fee to be taken from all bets before the government takes their cut.

But KY is unique in the sense it has no major sports teams, cutting off an avenue of support for the pro leagues.

The consensus growing is that the leagues will be cut out of any deal regardless. The KE lawmakers aren’t of the belief that the integrity fee will serve its intended purpose of protecting its citizens and generating new revenue.

They wouldn’t be the first, nor the last to do so and would follow the same model as the majority of states so far to pass sports betting legislation

The issue however remains one of the major stumbling blocks legislators need to overcome if Kentucky is indeed to launch sports betting in 2019.

- Inclusion of mobile wagering

The flexibility of betting from a mobile device is a must for all states going forwards if sports betting is going to really take off and states are to feel the maximum benefit.

Patrons of Kentucky will be pleased to know there’s a strong desire to make sports betting available online.

This is isn’t believed to be as much of a stumbling block though with the potential to introduce the online side at a later date, the route the majority of states are opting for.

- Regulator and money distribution

The preference of the lawmakers in KE is to ensure sports betting is regulated by a separate body than that of horse racing and the lottery, avoiding the monopolization of the gambling industry.

This is viewed as the best way of protecting each entity, as well as the revenue made from each form of gambling.

For example, concerns have been raised that sports betting could affect the amount of money made by the state lottery, which happens to fund education in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, a key motive for legalising sports betting in KY is to aid the pension crisis, as well as free up other sources of state revenue to assist with education and healthcare.

Popular forms of betting in KY

Given the lack of sports betting and casinos in Kentucky, the range of betting options are thin on the ground, to say the least.

The extent of the betting available in the state starts and ends with Pari-Mutuel betting, the most common wager placed in horse racing.

What is Pari-Mutuel Betting?

By far, the most common bet placed within horse racing. Rather than place a bet against the bookie, your wager is effectively in a pool of bets made by other bettors. The more common the bet is within that group, the lower the potential payout and vice versa. If there are few bettors with the same wager, a larger portion of the pool will present itself.

If the bet is more complicated or more of a risk, naturally the bet carries more value.

When sports betting does arrive in Kentucky, it’s not thought there will any limitations in terms of what you can and can’t bet on.

That’s good news for Kentuckians who may have an interest in supporting and wagering on the Cincinnati Bengals, the adopted NFL team of KY.

Based at the Paul Brown Stadium in Ohio, The Bengals have a modest history compared to many of their rivals but have enjoyed a degree of success of late having won the AFC title four times since 2005, making numerous play-off appearances also.

Here are the most popular wagers you can expect to be available when betting on the NFL:

- Money line

- Point spread

- Totals (Over/Under)

- Parlay

- Prop

Benefits of Sports Betting for KY

New Jersey are one such example of how locating sportsbooks at racetracks can work for all parties. As the potential ‘host’ of any sportsbook, sports betting will bring people to the tracks that wouldn’t normally attend.

There isn’t much difference between sports betting and horse racing than say, casinos and horse racing which are quite some way apart in terms of clientele.

In Europe and in the UK specifically, you are able to bet on the two from the same betting shop.

So, the chances of punters having a flutter pre-race or even sticking around after to spend winnings or attempt to reclaim lost stakes, has to be high, considered an important detail in trying to reverse declining horse racing revenues.

The introduction of a sportsbook at two racetracks, as proposed, will only serve in helping both industries to help make money off the back of the other, all for the greater good of the state.

Sports Betting History in KY

Many attempts to introduce casinos in Kentucky have been made via numerous sports bills, all to no avail. The law in Kentucky has long lent towards the betting law prohibiting games where random chance outweighs skill.

The language is subject to an element of contradiction given the exception made for horse racing which, even now, is still open for debate. Not to mention the state lottery where there’s no question that good fortune is involved.

Kentuckians can at least claim to having the most prestigious horse race in the US, maybe even the world, on their doorstep.

Tens of thousands of horse racing enthusiasts flock to the Kentucky Derby year on year, leaving little doubt as to where the horse racing capital of the world lies.

The taking down of PASPA in the first half of 2018 has now seen Kentucky among a number of states looking to profit from the billions of dollars being made from the industry, as well as conform to the interest shown by its patrons in the worldwide phenomena that is sports betting.

Providing a framework can be agreed on by all relevant parties.

It’s anticipated sports betting will be available to the people of Kentucky early in 2019.