Retail sports betting kicks off in Kentucky with Gov. Beshear placing first bet at Churchill Downs

On Thursday, at 9:54 a.m., Governor Andy Beshear placed the ceremonial first sports bet in Kentucky at Churchill Downs. This marks phase one of sports betting legalization in the state, allowing people to wager on sports at brick-and-mortar locations. September 28 will see apps take bets as well, which will allow people to bet anywhere in the Commonwealth.

The governor bet that the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville football teams will win more games this season than oddsmakers predict. A third part of the $20 parlay, all of which must happen for Beshear to cash in, was that Duke — a long-running basketball rival for both Kentucky and Louisville — would win fewer football games than projected this season.

I’m betting the teams will win more than the experts claim for both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville,” said Gov. Beshear as he held his $20 wager. “And we bet the under on Duke – rooting for them to tank.” Any winnings from the ceremonial first sports bets will be donated to the Louisville Sports Commission, officials said, as reported by ABC News.

Sports wagering facilities opened elsewhere in the state on Thursday during the first phase of the rollout. At a betting facility in Lexington, state Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, who helped champion the sports betting legislation, placed his own wager. “Starting today, no Kentuckian will ever have to take their hard-earned money to another state just to place a sports bet,” the Republican lawmaker said.

Gov. Beshear hopes Kentucky continues to build on this momentum and moves to legalize full casino gambling too. “It is wanted, desired, and demanded by the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear, as reported by Lex 18 News. “And I hope we can get there in the next couple of years.”

Sports betting alone is expected to bring in a significant amount of money for Kentucky. The state estimates that around $23 million in revenue will come from sports betting in the first year that it’s available. However, some experts argue that the figure may be a little low. The governor says it’s a conservative starting point, but he hopes it’s exceeded.

The increase in revenue will support the oversight of sports wagering and then be dedicated to the Kentucky permanent pension fund, according to the Governor’s Office. Additionally, 2.5% will support the Problem Gambling Assistance Fund. The fund educates Kentuckians on safe gambling practices, the risks of developing a gambling problem, risk factors and warning signs of gambling problems, and available services to reduce the consequences of problem gambling.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for legalized sports betting five years ago, and since then nearly three-fourths of the states have moved to allow it

Wagering on horse racing is a time-honored tradition in Kentucky, which bills itself as the world’s horse capital. In recent years, the state’s horse tracks have capitalized on a newer form of gambling — slots-like historical horse racing (HHR) machines that allow people to bet on randomly generated, past horse races. The games typically show videos of condensed races. Now the state has ushered in sports betting at racetracks and other track-affiliated venues.