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Ray Davis #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after running for a touchdown as we look at the Kentucky sports betting revenue reports for November and December.
Ray Davis #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after running for a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals in the second half at L&N Stadium on November 25, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images via AFP.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission certainly took its time releasing sports betting revenue figures from November and December but on Wednesday, we finally got a glimpse of how Kentucky sports betting has been performing since launch.

It turned out to be a bit of an up-and-down couple of months for the best sports betting sites in the newest legal sports wagering jurisdiction in the country. Both November and December failed to meet the wagering activity seen in October, and December produced the state’s lowest sports wagering output so far.

So far, Kentucky sports betting apps have accepted $855.7 million in bets, while retail sports wagering providers have contributed $36.6 million since launching in September. Even the high volume of Kentucky sportsbook promos have failed to slow the decline of betting revenue in the Bluegrass State.

Final 2023 betting handle disappoints

Kentucky's best sports betting apps took in a total of $546.6 million during the last two months of 2023, with November ($282.5 million) and December ($264.1 million) both falling short of expectation.

Wagering activity month-over-month has dropped all three months since the widespread launch of Kentucky sports betting sites and retail casinos. After $294.95 million was wagered in the state in October, the state's best sportsbooks saw a drop of nearly $13 million in November, and another dip of just over $18 million in December.

Is it a concern? Perhaps, but other states have seen tremendous wagering volume in their states in the first months of operation, only to have wagering level off after the first-month glow of a legal platform. Ohio sports betting, for example, had its only $1 billion handle in its first month of legalization.

Revenues up and down in Kentucky

Kentucky sportsbook revenues were up and down during the last two months of 2023, mostly due to a huge discrepancy in win rate for state providers.

Kentucky sportsbooks made $54.5 million in revenues in October - its first month of widespread legal wagering in the state. That number came from an elevated 18.5% win rate for state providers.

November provided a bit of a hiccup for Kentucky's best sports betting sites. Just $22.2 million in profits was reported off an underwhelming sub-8% hold rate. In December, that hold rate ticked up to 12.4%, which created Kentucky sportsbook revenues of $32.7 million for the month.

Kentucky state and local tax coffers benefitted to the tune of $7.6 million for the November/December period - $4.5 million in December and $3.1 million in November. The combined figure almost matches what Kentucky sportsbooks paid out in October taxes during the first full month of comprehensive legal sports betting in the state.

Since September, Kentucky's best sportsbooks have contributed a total of $15.5 million in taxes.

FanDuel and DraftKings dominant

To nobody's surprise, FanDuel Kentucky and DraftKings Kentucky were by far the most popular Kentucky sports betting apps. The two have combined for a 72% market share in the state's new sports wagering scene so far.

In November, FanDuel led the way with a $102 million handle in Kentucky, with DraftKings just $50K behind. DraftKings was the top-performing Kentucky sports betting site in December with a $98.5 million handle. FanDuel trailed its rival by just $5.5 million that month.

ESPN BET was fourth in the Kentucky market in November with about $17 million in accepted wagers, as bet365 checked in at third with $17.6 million in bets. ESPN BET Kentucky overtook bet365 in December with a $19 million state handle.

Caesars Sportsbook Kentucky finished fifth in both November and December in terms of overall handle, with BetMGM checking in sixth and Fanatics Sportsbook Kentucky slotting last of the seven Kentucky sports betting sites.