Kentucky racing officials have approved a rollout for sports betting, which will take effect when the NFL season begins in September.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved pari-mutuel wagering to begin Sept. 7 for retail at in-person locations such as tracks, its extension facilities and simulcast venues. Regulations for mobile operations will start on Sept. 28.
The KHRC’s vote Monday during a special meeting at Red Mile Gaming and Racing in Lexington, Kentucky, comes just over three months after the Republican-controlled Senate approved sports betting by a 25-12 vote. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear quickly signed the bill into law, which took effect on June 29 with KHRC oversight.
Beshear also signed the regulations at the track and looked forward to sports betting’s financial benefits.
“Bringing sports wagering to the state not only gives Kentuckians a much-anticipated new form of entertainment,” he said in a statement, “but also brings money to the state to support pensions, freeing up money that can be used to build a better Kentucky through the funding of education, economic development, disaster recovery and other necessary projects, like providing cleaner water, building roads and high-speed internet.”
Sports betting is legal in nearly three dozen states.
It is expected to generate $23 million annually in tax revenue and licensing fees in Kentucky — and perhaps stoke interest in horse racing among bettors at the track.
The commission’s approval followed Beshear’s desire to have sports betting up and running by the start of NFL season and falls on the date when the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Detroit Lions.
Sports betting will be available at many of the state’s horse racing tracks, including Turfway Park in northern Kentucky and Ellis Park in Henderson. Both are owned by Churchill Downs Inc., which will also offer sports betting at its nearby Derby City Gaming facility and a venue under construction in downtown Louisville.