Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is in the midst of a reelection campaign and he’s touting the rollout of legal sports betting as an accomplishment of his administration. To that end, Beshear released some early information about how physical sportsbooks in the state have fared so far.
Beshear says Kentuckians have placed more than $4.5 million in sports bets at licensed horse racing tracks around the state. Another piece of data from Beshear’s office, along with what’s missing from the press release, provides the rest of the story.
Beshear says in-person bets are flirting with $5 million
Legal sports betting began in Kentucky on Sept. 7 and Beshear was among the first to take advantage. Now he’s onto doing that even more by publishing some information about how the rollout continues.
According to a Thursday release from Beshear’s office, “preliminary numbers following the first two weekends of retail wagering indicate over $4.5 million was wagered in the state.” That total doesn’t include any activity since the time specified.
As the release stated, that total was preliminary. It also doesn’t say much about how sports betting in Kentucky has gone so far.
Hard to tell how successful Kentucky’s sports betting launch has been
That $4.5 million number is merely an unofficial sum of how much money bettors have put down on sports bets from Sept. 7 through last weekend. That number doesn’t show how much money the state’s physical sportsbooks have won from bettors.
Additionally, it doesn’t tell Kentuckians which sportsbooks are performing best to date. At least some of the books may have seen very marginal actual revenue numbers or even taken losses so far.
The amount of actual revenue is the more important number. Kentucky taxes revenue, not the amount of money bet. Thus, if the win for sportsbooks has been meager, that means the tax take for Kentucky has been quite small as well.
The likely far smaller win total for books doesn’t make for as attractive a press release fodder.
As previously mentioned, Beshear is in a campaign. Another statistic in the release might be more telling about how the implementation of legal sports betting is going so far.
Kentucky governor shares online registration total
According to the release, over 60,000 people in Kentucky have taken advantage of online sports betting early registration offers. Caesars is offering bonus bets among four sports betting apps doing the same in exchange for early account signups.
Again, context is necessary for that statistic. In 2020, the United States Census Bureau estimated that 77.7% of people in Kentucky were at least 18 years old. Given that such people are now at least 21, simple math says that over 3.5 million of the 4.5 million people in Kentucky are of age to use regulated sports betting apps in the state.
Naturally, not everyone who is of age in Kentucky is going to be interested in using these apps. Awareness of the pre-launch registration window could be low in the state, too. At the same time, 60,000 represents less than 2% of the likely 21+ population in Kentucky.
That number could grow when online sportsbooks start accepting bets as early as Sept. 28. Over $4.5 million in wagers seems a solid start for Kentucky’s land-based sportsbooks but a lot of the data necessary to truly gauge the success of the launch is still unknown.