Sports Betting is Finally Legal in the State of Kentucky after Initially Facing Skepticism in the State Congress

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Michael Savio
USA Legal Betting


  • Kentucky passed a law to legalize, regulate, and tax sports betting
  • Kentucky Speedway and horse racing tracks need to pay a fee to operate as sports betting facilities.
  • Taxes at tracks will be 9.75% and taxes on online legal sportsbooks will be 14.25%.

The Legal Sports Betting bill passed on Friday morning thanks to Governor Andy Beshear signing the bill into law. It was approved 25-12 in the Senate and just barely hit the majority needed for it to pass which was 23. Legal Sportsbooks can now operate in Kentucky.

Many thought this bill was destined to fail after a similar bill went through the Kentucky House only for the Senate to kill it with a lack of support from the more traditional GOP caucus in the Bluegrass State.

Apparently, the bill’s passing was a surprise because Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer originally said the bill was around one vote short, but it was quickly added to last Thursday’s agenda and was then voted on just 30 minutes later.

Kentucky is now the 38th State to Legalize Sports Betting

The legalized sports betting law will officially go into effect at the end of this June. House Leader Thayer initially said that the bill is estimated to bring in an annual $23 million in tax revenue that will then go towards the state’s public pension system among other areas of the state, and he said he thinks that number is low, and then cited how Tennessee has brought in $68 million in tax revenue from sports gambling.

The bill had the full support of the seven Democrats in the chamber with all seven voting yes, while the Republicans were more divided with 18 voting for the bill while 12 voted no.

The President of the GOP Caucus in the Senate, Robert Stivers seemed like he was the biggest obstacle for the vote. He was an assumed No, this whole time and then surprised a lot of the group in the meeting when he voted yes.

"I think that gave some other members the confidence to vote yes," Thayer said. "There's no doubt that his decision to vote yes was an absolute game changer, a seminal moment for sports betting in Kentucky.”

Thayer also said in a celebratory message, "I look forward to Kentuckians being able to place their wagers right here in the commonwealth instead of traveling across state lines to spend their money in other states.”

Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat who would normally not agree with Thayer on much politically, said, "After years of urging lawmakers to legalize sports betting, we finally did it!" Beshear wrote. "Today’s result shows that hard work pays off. Kentuckians will soon be able to place their bets here, and for the first time, we are going to keep those dollars to support our roads and bridges, schools and communities."

At the governor's signing ceremony Friday morning, Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, the lead sponsor of the bill, said this bill "might be the most bipartisan bill that was passed this session."

What this Bill Ultimately Means

Kentucky can wager on other sports outside of just horse-racing in a crazy horse-racing state. Horse-racing facilities will need to pay an upfront fee of $500,000 and with an annual $50,000 cost of renewal for the facility.

Service providers that provide online wagering will need to pay $50,000 and then an annual fee of $10,000.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would regulate sports wagering operations too.

Kentucky has a huge history of sports betting getting tied back to horse-racing, but now the state is opened to others and with a state that has a long basketball history too, the possibilities for legalized sportsbooks in-state have opened a ton.

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid. As an adult, Michael started picking games for a small sports betting site and has built it into a career. His experience allows him to provide tips and information to help other bettors improve their game. Michael cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils (his alma mater), and the Ottawa Senators. He specializes in baseball betting but has extensive experience in football, basketball, and hockey. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children or hiking and enjoying the outdoors.