What Would Making Betting Illegal Do to Kentucky’s Horse Industry?

The 2018 Kentucky Derby was one of the most memorable sporting events of the year. The race itself was exciting to watch as the favorites raced to the finish line ahead of the underdog contenders. But the attention that the Kentucky Derby commanded from around the world was overshadowed by one of the biggest stories that broke several weeks after the race – the closure of several major racing bookmakers around the country.

The news that the government would criminally prosecute individuals who placed bets on horse races through online sportsbooks was a bombshell that rocked the horse racing world. While the government did not prosecute many people after the story broke, it did send a strong message to those who were still daring to place bets on horse races. Most notably, the Kentucky Derby was canceled for a year after the controversy and the law was changed to make wagering on sports illegal in the state. 

No More Sportsbooks In Kentucky

The crackdown on illegal wagering in Kentucky was just one of several big stories that broke around the Derby season. Several major websites pulled up stakes and moved to other states, citing regulatory double-talk and onerous licensing requirements as their main reasons for leaving. Several other websites that operate in Kentucky closed down after the crackdown, leaving room for fewer options to place bets on horse races. Less competition is always better for consumers, and it makes a horse betting market more stable.

Racing Is On The Rocks In Kentucky

The Kentucky horse racing industry is worth around $100 million a year and is one of the most popular sports in the state. The government’s crackdown on illegal wagering had a significant impact on the industry – at least in the short term. Just weeks after the Derby, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) held hearings to determine whether or not to renew the licenses of the state’s three major race tracks. The KHRC took the unprecedented step of denying licenses to the three tracks, effectively killing off any chances of serious expansion in the near future. The reason for the denial is that the Kentucky racing commission does not want to become “the wagering capital of the world,” as Commissioner Bob Bucknum put it.

More People Are Betting On Live Horse Racing

The popularity of online sportsbooks has made the “live betting” option a popular choice among bettors. Live betting gives you the convenience of placing bets whenever you want, rather than waiting for the races to be posted after an event. It also allows you to get more bang for your buck, as you can often bet on multiple events at once. This form of betting gives you the added advantage of knowing when your bets will be paid out.

Will The Outcome Be Worth It?

The popularity of live betting and the impact that the crackdown on illegal wagering had on the Kentucky horse racing industry leaves a lot to think about. Will the government’s efforts to protect its citizens from betting on sports result in significantly less competition in the market and lower standards of service? We will have to wait and see.

When it comes to the Kentucky horse racing market, there are a lot of winners and losers. The most significant loser, however, is the taxpayer who will now have to foot the bill for the legal defense of online sportsbook operators who are facing prosecution by the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement (U.I.G.E) agency. How much will all of this cost the public? We will have to wait and see.

The bottom line is this: the United States government continues to crack down on illegal online gambling, but more people are finding ways to get around the restrictions that are being put in place. The demand for online sports betting is growing, as is the competition in the market. For fans of horse racing around the world, that is not a good thing.