Will Many Sports Fans Travel To Place Wagers In Kentucky?

With the full launch of Kentucky sports betting, plenty of eyes will be on the betting numbers as mobile sportsbooks go live. In addition to the KY sports betting numbers alone, bettors will be interested in how nearby states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee perform with competing Kentucky.

With certain online sportsbooks only requiring bettors to be 18 and up, there’s a decent chance of sports fans taking cross-state trips to place wagers. Online numbers overall could be significant, especially after a strong start from retail sportsbooks.

Lower Betting Age For Some Platforms Could Bring Bettors From Other States

One of the most interesting stories to keep an eye on heading into the launch of Kentucky sports betting has been the legal betting age in the state. The current legal betting age in the state for horse racing, the state lottery, and sports betting is currently 18 and up. This is lower than the standard age across the U.S., which is currently 21 and up.

However, a number of different sports betting operators that have launched in the Bluegrass State are requiring bettors to be 21 and up, such as BetMGM, Caesars, and FanDuel. DraftKings Sportsbook and Bet365 Sportsbook, however, will require bettors to be 18 and up to sign up and begin betting. This lower age has raised questions over bettors crossing state lines to wager in Kentucky.

Take neighboring Ohio for example. Legal Sports Report, which projects the state of Kentucky to have a 2023 betting handle exceeding $1 billion, has reported that Ohio’s big population numbers and growing industry shouldn’t mean a much lower handle with neighboring Kentucky launching.

But with DraftKings and Bet365 letting younger bettors place wagers, that could translate to some sports fans under 21 making the trip to bet in the Bluegrass State. The short distance between Cincinnati and the Kentucky border could bring a jump in cross-state betting.

Indiana, which also saw a decrease when when Ohio sports wagering went live, could also see a dip in numbers with Kentucky going live considering the short distance between the state and Louisville. Meanwhile, neighboring states such as Illinois, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia aren’t expected to see major decreases due to lower populations around the state borders.

Retail Sports Betting Momentum Signals Big Online Handle

Weeks before Bluegrass State bettors got access to mobile sportsbooks, retail sports betting went live in the state. Starting on September 7, 2023, in-person sportsbooks began opening at popular racetracks in the state such as Churchill Downs, Red Mile gaming & Racing, and Derby City Gaming.

Many of these locations partnered with Kambi for their retail sports betting operations, while others feature sports betting operators like DraftKings and Caesars.

In just two weeks of operation, retail sports betting proved to be popular in the state. Kentucky sports fans wagered $4.5 million at retail sportsbooks in their first two weeks of operation, signaling the excitement for legal betting in the Bluegrass State.

The timing couldn’t have been better, with retail betting coinciding with the NFL season start and plenty of local college football events to wager on. With brick-and-mortar sportsbooks setting the stage, the mobile sports betting handle should see major numbers the rest of 2023.

Anthony Elio is the Lead Writer for LINEUPS.com, focusing on sports betting, online casino gaming, and horse racing. He covers state betting handles, sportsbook partnerships, operator news, and NHL picks. Outside of his work with LINEUPS, Elio has also written for Daily Fantasy Cafe, Innovation & Tech Today, Krazy Coupon Lady, and Residential Tech Today.

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