How will sports betting impact Kentucky’s economy?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - At the end of August, Governor Beshear said in a release that sports wagering is expected to increase the state’s revenue by an estimated $23 million a year.
The increase in revenue will support the oversight of sports wagering and then be dedicated to the Kentucky permanent pension fund. 2.5% of the revenue will support the problem gambling assistance account operated by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
For the fans who gathered at Churchill Downs’ newly-renovated Aristides Lounge Thursday on the first day retail sports betting went live, it’s exciting to have sports betting right in their own backyard.
“Normally we would have to go to Indiana to bet, and now it’s right here in our home, in our backyard,” Ricky Duncan Jr., who came to place a bet on Thursday’s Lions vs. Chiefs game, said. “So we can come right down the street and bet.”
Keeping that business in Kentucky means more foot traffic for local casinos and Kentucky’s racetracks. For Churchill Downs, which is just a short walk away from L&N Stadium, opening day coincided perfectly with the UofL vs. Murray State game.
“It does have a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ where there’s just more people around and people spend money,” said Max Bichsel, the vice president of Gambling.com Group, a marketing company that helps online sportsbooks acquire players.
Aside from being a major boost in tax revenue, Bichsel said states that legalize sports betting provide a safe option for people to place their bets.
“It helps protect consumers because they’re not wagering on sports online with potentially a nefarious offshore sportsbook or someone who you’re not necessarily sure you’ll be able to get your money out,” Bichsel said. “You have a lot of protections, and the state is offering those protections in the form of regulations.”
In addition, he said Kentucky’s legislation allows for competition in the market, giving sports fans lots of options on where to place their bets.
“They’ve done that through accessibility, giving the opportunity for a bunch of new market entrants to come in, where people have selection on who they want to wager with,” Bichsel said. “Rather than just having one place you can go or one app you can download, you’ll have hopefully a dozen or two dozen options.”
For racetracks like Churchill Downs, Bichsel said it’s a chance to attract crowds year-round during major sporting events, instead of primarily during the Triple Crown.
“It gives them more opportunity to provide that service and that level of excitement and entertainment to consumers throughout the year versus a couple weekends in the spring and summer,” Bichsel said.
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