Kentucky Sports Betting Gets Official Rollout Date

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 8, 2023 12:00 AM
Kentucky sports betting will officially be rolled out this September.

Slow, surely, the terms of Kentucky sports betting have trickled out ever since it was legalized this past March. First, the state released details on how the gambling infrastructure would work. Then, they publicized the tax rate and how revenue would be spent. After that, they moved on to additional rules and regulations for the market. And now, the most important details of all have been made official.

We know when sports betting in Kentucky will go live to the public.

And it's going to be soon.

Kentucky Sports Betting Expected to Start in Time for the 2023 NFL Season

Though The Bluegrass State had flirted with a September rollout for legal sports betting earlier this year, the exact date was very much up in the air. Kentucky is ahead of most states without full-on wagering, because they have allowed betting on horse racing for quite some time. But they only agreed to approve gambling on other sports and with the best online sportsbooks in the United States right around the start of April. Going through the process of setting up an infrastructure and licensing betting operators can be time-consuming.

However, as it turns out, Kentucky was uniquely motivated to roll out sports betting as quickly as possible. They wanted to be up and running in time to capitalize on betting odds for the 2023 NFL season. Now, roughly four months after approving the latest sports gambling initiative, they have confirmed that residents will be able to place wagers at both retail locations and with online operators this September.

The news comes from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. According to a series of statements, they were able to work through most of their checklist in a timely manner. This includes the release of market regulations, a tax revenue structure, sports betting licenses and much more.

With that said, one of the big questions was whether on-site gambling and Kentucky online sports betting would go live at the same time. It has since been determined that they will have staggered releases. On-site sports betting in Kentucky will begin on September 7, 2023—the first day of the 2023 NFL regular season. Online sports betting operators are scheduled to roll out their services exactly three weeks later, on September 28, 2023. 

Online sportsbooks, of course, aren't thrilled by this timeline. A later release date means they have less time to profit off betting on the NFL. It also gives brick-and-mortar providers a leg up on establishing clientele and the loyal business that can come with them. Still, they ultimately didn't provide that much push back. Concerns over market share carry more weight when all online sportsbooks aren't releasing on the same date. That's not the case here. All licensed online sportsbooks in Kentucky are expected to be operational on September 28.

The Accelerated Release of Kentucky Sports Betting is Not Unprecedented

Many inside and out of the industry have wondered whether Kentucky's sports betting rollout is begging for a setback given their aggressive timeline. They legalized gambling on March 31. Debuting (most) wagering services on September 8 represents a turnaround of less than six months.

Is it really possible to go from no legal sports betting beyond horse races to full-blown sports wagering in such a short amount of time? And without any problems on top of that? As Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report explained, it has, in fact been done before:

"Multiple states have flipped the switch just as quickly. In 2021, Arizona sports betting went from Governor Doug Ducey's signature in April 2021 to a September 9, 2021 debut. Last year, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed sports betting into law [on] May 12, 2022, with sportsbooks taking bets by September 1, 2022."

This bodes well for the Kentucky sports betting timeline. Granted, we have seen other states forced to push back their scheduled debuts in the past—Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio, etc. But it helps that Kentucky already had a Horse Racing Commission to assist with all of the logistics. Other states were starting from much less established positions.

Plus, Kentucky has safeguarded themselves against select snafus by staggering the debut of online sports betting. Rolling out both on-site and mobile wagering at once would have been more complicated. The current sports betting schedule allows Kentucky to polish off the on-site sector and focus on the debut of online wagering a few weeks later.

Other States Apparently Helped Kentucky Expedite Their Sports Gambling Timeline

In yet further evidence that Kentucky was driven to accelerate this process, they also sought counsel from key stakeholders in other states. Experts from Ohio, Massachusetts and New Jersey all provided advice and market insight to help The Bluegrass State streamline their rollout. 

The information from Ohio and Massachusetts, in particular, should be very valuable. Both states didn't have legal sports betting until this year. They should be able to prepare Kentucky for any online or on-site curveballs, if not help them evade hangups they experienced early on in the process.

Additionally, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission reportedly also retained the services of Gaming Labs International (GLI), a company that specializes in sports gambling consultations. Certain moves made by the state have GLI's imprint all over it—such as the formation of a Sports Wagering Advisory Council that will "advise on the oversight of retail and online sports betting in the state."

So, go ahead and treat the current timeline for Kentucky sports betting as gospel. The state seems serious about having all of their sports gambling services live by the end of September.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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