Early Kentucky Sports Betting Returns Spotlight Big Brands, Promo Spend

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Kentucky sports betting

The first three days of online Kentucky sports betting featured big budgets and two name-brand outfits garnering the most volume to close out September.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s initial report released recently shows FanDuel offered the most free bets at $15.5 million. Between Sept. 28 and 30, FanDuel’s promotional budget outpaced its $15.1 million handle over the month’s final days.

Despite limited promos in September at $5.7 million, DraftKings handled $15.5 million in three days. The popular app likely relied on its long-standing brand recognition advantage over other operators to drive Kentucky sports betting signups within the first few days of going live.

Kentucky sports betting promo budgets

The seven Kentucky sports betting apps combined for $27.3 million in bonus bets in September’s final three days before unloading $72.5 million more in October.

Caesars Sportsbook did not spend much in the way of promos as it works to reduce the cost of customer acquisition. Caesars’ free play totaled $2.6 million through October while accepting $14 million in bets.

Penn Entertainment did not offer many free bets either. Its Barstool Sportsbook platform was in the process of rebranding to ESPN Bet.

Expect that to change in the coming months, though. ESPN Bet launched on November 14 and so far early results show an aggressive promotional push.

Bet365 not afraid to spend

Like FanDuel, bet365 saw its $4.9 million in bonuses outweigh its $2.6 million September handle.

The UK powerhouse offered another $16.5 million in October bonuses, the third-most in the Kentucky sports betting market. Bet365 has been willing to spend on promos across multiple markets in recent months.

Total handle for bet365 hit $31.2 million through October.

Promo-heavy launches are the norm

Heavy promotional spending is typical during a new market launch as sports betting apps compete for customers.

Ohio sports betting apps dumped $320 million in bonuses during their initial month in January.

Maryland sportsbooks offered $70.9 million in free bets in December 2022, their first full month of online betting.

Online sports betting through October

Online Kentucky sports betting handle reached $323.6 million in just over a month.

Kentucky sportsbooks combined for $55 million in online revenue before deducting the 0.25% federal sports betting excise tax.

FanDuel$131.2 million$20.7 million15.7%$42.5 million
DraftKings$124.9 million$19.8 million15.8%$28.8 million
bet365$31.2 million$8.7 million27.7%$21.4 million
BetMGM$14.7 million$2.8 million18.9%$3.6 million
Caesars$14 million$2.3 million16.2%$2.6 million
Fanatics$4.6 million$494,60010.7%$849,000
Barstool Sportsbook$2.9 million$389,10013.3%$79,600
Total*$323.6 million$55 million17%$99.8 million

*Totals may not add to 100% because of rounding

In-person Kentucky sports betting

Red Mile Gaming & Racing in Lexington accepted the most betting dollars of any retail location in the Bluegrass State.

Since in-person Kentucky sports betting launched on Sept. 7, the Caesars-branded sportsbook at Red Mile handled $6.8 million.

In a conversation earlier this year, Jim Goodman, director of wagering development at Keeneland, told LSR the proximity to downtown and the University of Kentucky campus made Red Mile the most convenient location for a retail sportsbook in Lexington.

Freshmen may be disappointed when they show up at the sportsbook, though. While sports betting is legal at age 18 in Kentucky, Caesars maintained its 21 and older rules.

CDI property popular, too

Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated, was also popular for in-person bettors.

The home of the Kentucky Derby handled $5.9 million since Gov. Andy Beshear placed the first legal Kentucky sports betting wager there in early September.

Derby City Gaming Downtown, another Churchill Downs property complete with an in-person sportsbook, recently opened on Dec. 6 in Louisville.

Kentucky sports betting by the numbers

Combined in-person and online Kentucky sports betting handle reached $340.8 million through October.

Kentucky sportsbooks combined to hold 16.5% and produced $56.4 million in adjusted gross revenue. Operators can deduct the 0.25% federal sports betting excise tax from their winnings and are taxed on the remaining revenue.

Kentucky collected $7.9 million in sports betting taxes since the market opened.