Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear Renews Push for Legal Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear Renews Push for Legal Sports Betting

Prior to the 2022 November elections, Kentucky governor Andy Beshear reiterated his "100 percent" support of legal sports betting coming to the Bluegrass State. Now, less than two months later, he's doing it again. And this time, his support includes a more definitive plan of action.

Will the Kentucky governor's latest push wind up meaning anything as we enter 2023 and the state starts deliberating on matters up for consideration? It's far too early to tell. And even if it weren't too early, it would be pointless to venture a guess.

Remember: The legalization of sports betting in Kentucky was once considered a given. They are already heavily tapped into the horse racing market. Heck, betting on the Kentucky Derby is pastime both inside and outside the state. Indulging other events and forms of sports betting was thought to be the natural next progression. And yet, the state has now failed to green light multiple proposals that would have legalized sports betting.

Sure, Governor Beshear's support could help move things along in 2023. But his advocacy on the subject is longstanding; he is not new to the pro-sports betting party. Should we expect his latest push to end any differently than the state's other attempts to legalize sports gambling? Let's find out.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is Increasingly Adamant About the Need for Legal Sports Betting

The Kentucky governor has made a habit out of citing lost revenue when he discusses sports betting. He knows that people within the state already bet on sports. He also knows they've never had more options at their disposal.

Placing bets online is now a cinch for everyone. So many of the top reviewed online sportsbooks will allow anyone from the United States to set up an account. But that's been the case for a while now. The development of the sports betting market around Kentucky is more recent.

With Ohio set to launch legal sports betting on January 1, Missouri is now the only neighboring state to Kentucky without legal sports betting. Mind you, Missouri does have sports betting legislation on the table. They have faced pressure after Kansas recently legalized sports betting. Many believe Missouri will follow suit within the next year or two.

This shifting reality has caught the attention of the Kentucky governor. Here's what Mr. Beshear said when recently asked about it by Local 12 News in Kentucky: "I am for sports betting. I believe that it is more than time. All we're doing is handing over our money to Ohio or surrounding states. Any football game you turn on right now, what, about a third of the commercials are for one of the companies, one of the platforms on sports betting. This has become a part of entertainment. It's time that we embrace it and keep these dollars here."

Beshear also went on to cite revenue figures from other states. In particular, he focused on the nearby Indiana and the Ohio sports betting launch. Since legalizing sports betting three years ago, Indiana has generated around $80 million in additional tax revenue. That's all money that goes to the state. Meanwhile, the Kentucky governor noted that early estimates from have the Buckeye State taking home $100 million in tax revenue by the end of 2023 alone.

Does Kentucky have the Support to Legal Sports Betting in 2023?

When Governor Beshear throws around the numbers above, it feels like only a matter of time before sports betting comes to Kentucky. And truthfully, it probably is only a matter of time.

Still, Kentucky sports betting is no without issues and question marks. 

It has plenty of bi-partisan support. That's a great sign. And pro-gambling sentiments are especially prevalent in the House of Representatives. The House actually voted in favor of a sports betting bill this past year. It just never made it to the Senate floor.

Republicans in the Kentucky Senate generally think legal sports betting isn't a pressing topic. The state isn't home to any pro sports franchises, and critics claim there won't be much interest in betting beyond the Kentucky Derby. But while this logic might sound practical in theory, it's more likely just plain flawed. Other states like West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, etc. don't have pro sports franchises in their region, and they've still managed to profit off legal sports betting.

Could Ohio Sports Betting Launch Force Kentucky's Hand?

Governor Beshear has made it clear he will push the Kentucky sports betting issue ahead of the next scheduled legislative meetings. We should fully expect another bill to be proposed. We would even guess that it passes through the House of Representatives again.

Catching the attention of the Senate remains the biggest roadblock. And it's possible the Ohio sports betting launch could play a role in getting around it.

While the Kentucky Senate won't have a full year's worth of data from Ohio to use when they're next scheduled to meet, they will still have a couple months' worth of early returns. If the Ohio sports betting launch ends up beating—or even just meeting—lucrative projections, then you have to imagine the Kentucky Senate will be more inclined to make their own sports betting measure a higher priority.

Will this measure include online sports betting? How long will it take to roll out? How many licenses will it allow? Those are questions for another day. The next legal gambling bill needs to be passed first. And though it seems likely we'll see progress on the Kentucky sports betting front in 2023, we know by now that nothing is guaranteed.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read more here.