Three weeks have passed since Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 551 into law, effectively legalizing sports betting. Now, Kentucky lawmakers are beginning to sort through the regulatory details that will bring the bill to life.
Kentucky Aims to Launch Betting Before the NFL Season
On April 7, at a weekly press conference, Beshear announced that he would like to see people in Kentucky betting on this year’s NFL season. “I would really like to have it ahead of that first NFL game, knowing that that is a big starting date for people,” Beshear said. The 2023 season begins on Sept. 7, less than six months from now.
Beginning June 28 when the bill goes into effect, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), which will regulate the state’s sports betting market, has six months to finalize all regulations and launch sports betting. So, the absolute deadline to launch is Dec. 28. Sports betting will be in Kentucky prior to the turn of the new year.
“This administration is for expediting the process but for getting it right,” Beshear said. “We want to move as quickly as possible, that’s looking at best practices from other states.”
While a September launch is an aggressive timeline given the nature of the legal process, it’s not impossible. Kansas legalized sports betting on May 12, 2022 and took its first bet on Sept. 1, 2022.
Commission Already At Work
The KHRC convened for the first time on April 18 where Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz commented on the bill’s passing publicly for the first time.
“The commission, along with members of the Public Protection Cabinet, have begun the process of drafting proposed regulations, meeting with officials in other states that recently have legalized sports wagering, and working with our licensed associations and potential service providers,” Rabinowitz said.
While Rabinowitz did not comment on the aforementioned fall timeline, the haste in their efforts makes Beshear’s timeline seem possible.
Kentucky Sports Betting Bill Recap
House Bill 551 will bring betting on professional and collegiate sports both online and in-person to the state of Kentucky. Kentucky horse racing tracks will be eligible to host retail sportsbooks via contracts with up to three operators. Tracks will pay $500,000 for a license and operators will pay $50,000 to the state.
Additionally, in-person betting revenue will be taxed at 9.25% and online revenue at 14.25%. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael Meredith said that with this tax structure, the state of Kentucky could generate $23 million in tax revenue, annually.
2.5% of the revenue will create the state’s first problem gambling assistance fund, and the remainder will go to the state’s pension fund.