Published: September 28, 2023

After years of waiting, some Kentuckians celebrate the online launch of legal sports betting

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Online sports betting launched Thursday in Kentucky, bringing patrons to flood into brick and mortar restaurants to watch and wager on NFL football games.

Over in St. Matthews, a steady crowd gathered at The Fox Den, including David Neal, who said he's been betting on sports for years — just not in Kentucky.

"Of course I've been; It's fun," Neal said. "I don't like to bet a lot of money because I know I'm not gonna make any money because you can't make money gambling, but it's fun to do."  

Others aren't simply placing bets, but spreading the word about online wagering, too.

"I got my parents involved in it and downloaded and set them up on their, with their deposits and all that," Fox Den patron, Don, said. Don asked WHAS11 News to not use his last name.

The only elephant in the room was the frustration people had, given the amount of time it's taken Kentucky officials to legalize sports betting.

"It was frustrating before; Indiana's taken a lot of our dollars out Louisville, millions," Don said. "So yeah, it's nice to be able to bet legally, and from my home, watching games."

For dozens, Thursday marked the start of saving money on gas and tolls, not having to cross the bridges to place bets anymore, allowing them to put their dollars into Kentucky.

"Indiana just stole our money from us for years and years," Neal said. "We're excited though, to have it here. It's easy."

Some sports analysts are calling the launch the "Black Friday" of sports betting.

"A lot of people are gonna be setting up their accounts [Thursday]," Steve Bittenbender, a writer and analyst for, said. "It's gonna be a lot of traffic, a lot of bandwidth on these apps." 

Three weeks after in-person betting launched, Kentucky has already raked in $4.5 million, according to Gov. Andy Beshear. The hope is that revenue may balloon to nearly $25 million by the end of the year.

Bittenbender said, in surrounding states, online betting makes up 90% to 95% of state revenue, compared to in-person sports books.

"It stands to reason that Kentucky will follow the national trend and have a dominant online sports betting environment," Bittenbender said

For local sports bars, the hope is that betting success will rub off on business.

"I think it's going to help keep money in the city," Daniel "DZ" Zeitz, a bar manager at The Fox Den, said. "On Sunday, it's gonna be the first full day of Sunday football with betting allowed. I can see people just holding up their phones and staring at the television or sitting at the bar with a laptop."

These six mobile applications launched online sports betting in Kentucky:

  • Bet 365
  • Bet MGM
  • Barstool Sportsbook
  • Caesars
  • Draft Kings
  • FanDuel
  • Fanatics

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