Kentucky Sportsbooks Take $68 Million in Bet in First Week of Operation

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell
USA Legal Betting


  • Kentucky launched online sports betting on September 28
  • The early participation was greater than experts anticipated
  • Kentucky’s launch smartly coincided with the NFL season

Kentucky sportsbooks accepted $68 million in wagers in their first four days of operation, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.

“$68 million… That's the amount wagered from Thursday to Sunday from in-person and mobile sports betting in Kentucky,” Beshear tweeted. “The best news is those dollars are staying right here to help build a brighter future for all our families.”

The Governor’s Office revealed that more than 300,000 users created accounts with online sportsbooks. Those customers contributed roughly $66.5 million to the $68 million total.

A successful first week

Kentucky legalized sports betting at the end of the legislative window on March 31. It launched retail sports betting on September 7 and then opened its online marketplace on September 28.

Beshear said that Kentucky sportsbooks have handled about $10 million in retail facilities on top of the first-week online returns.

The Governor is not surprised by the early success of legal sports betting, though he did say the numbers are higher than the state predicted.

“These numbers shouldn't be a surprise to anyone because Kentuckians have wanted this option for so long,” said Beshear. “This is just showing just how much Kentuckians wanted this and how right it was to pass it because people are really enjoying it.”

Kentucky is one of 35 states with operational sports betting markets. Another three (Florida, Maine, and Vermont) have passed legalization but are yet to open their markets.

Despite the early numbers exceeding experts’ expectations, Beshear believes that the betting handle and participation rate will grow as more users register with sportsbooks and advertising and promotions proliferate across the state. Kentucky will also use portions of the tax revenue it claims from operators to reinvest in its communities.

“The best part is all of it stays in Kentucky, helping with our pension system and other needs," said Beshear.

Kentucky taxes retail and operators at 9.75% and 14.25% of gross revenue, respectively. A large majority will go toward addressing the dwindling pension fund, while 2.5% ($25,000 per $1 million) will help address and treat problem gambling.

Public bettors flop?

Kentucky followed a popular trend of launching during a time of year when there is a popular sporting event, such as March Madness, or, in this case, the NFL season.

The Sept. 7 retail launch coincided with the opening night kick-off, while Sept. 28 was the same day as Thursday Night Football in Week 4.

Week 4 NFL betting was a mixed bag for the public. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, public sides (lines with at least 70% support) for NFL spreads went 4-4. The Chiefs (91% of bets) were the biggest losers of the day as they won by only three points and failed to cover the nine-point spread.

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes had a clear path to follow to the end zone near the end of the game and would have put his team up nine with a chance to boost the lead to 10 but opted to slide short of the goal line. His decision allowed the Chiefs to drain the clock, but it also led many frustrated bettors to frustratedly suggest foul play was afoot.

The second-largest public side in Week 4 was the Cincinnati Bengals -2.5 against the Tennessee Titans in a game that ended 27-3 in favor of the underdogs. That represented another massive loss for the NFL gambling crowd.

Looking ahead, bettors have their choice of the NFL, MLB playoffs, NBA preseason, and a variety of other sports to choose from. Beshear is paying close attention to college football and is monitoring a $20 parlay he placed—the first bet in Kentucky’s history—which includes the over on win totals for Kentucky and Louisville and the under on Duke’s win total.

“I still have a chance to win the very first sports bet ever made [in Kentucky] because UK and U of L are 5-0, and Duke has started to tank,” said Beshear.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.