“This magic pen makes it a law,” Gov. Andy Beshear told Emorie Meredith, daughter of Rep. Michael Meredith, behind them, as he signed regulations for sports gambling in Kentucky. Public Protection Cabinet Secretary Ray Perry is on the right. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Jamie Lucke)
LEXINGTON — Gamblers can begin casting legal sports bets at racetrack-related locations across Kentucky on Sept. 7 and through mobile apps on Sept. 28, under emergency regulations signed yesterday by Gov. Andy Beshear at the Red Mile.
The legislature earlier this year made Kentucky the 37th state to legalize sports betting. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way in 2018 by striking down a federal ban that had excluded most states from legalizing such gambling.
Sports bettors in Kentucky must be 18 or older. Some states have set the minimum age at 21. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, explained that 18 is consistent with Kentucky’s other wagering laws.
Only Kentucky’s nine racetracks are eligible to apply for licenses, beginning Tuesday, to operate retail sports betting sites. They can offer sports betting at all of their locations, including satellite “historical horse racing” gambling halls and simulcasting venues.
Each track also is permitted to partner with up to three marketing platforms for mobile wagering.
The legislature made the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which developed and approved the regulations, responsible for oversight and enforcement of sports betting.
Racing commission officials during a special meeting Monday said the regulations are designed to protect bettors. The commission plans to add 14 new employees to carry out its new responsibilities.
Beshear said the state anticipates $23 million a year in tax revenue from sports wagering and that the law will keep entertainment and tax dollars now going to surrounding states in Kentucky.
A quarterhorse racetrack being developed in Ashland and a harness racing track in Corbin may not be ready in time to open for retail sports betting by Sept. 7, Beshear said, although their mobile partners can begin taking bets on Sept. 28.
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