As legal Kentucky sports betting quickly approaches, the sportsbook landscape is slowly taking shape.
During an Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue meeting Wednesday, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission executive director Jamie Eads revealed a slate of operators that have talked with Kentucky sports betting regulators in preparation for the September launch:
- Circa Sports
It also comprises members of the Sports Betting Alliance, which includes BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and Fanatics. In-person sports betting can begin Sept. 7, while online operators must wait until Sept. 28.
Kentucky sports betting partnerships largely unknown
Of the operators the KHRC has engaged, only FanDuel has a confirmed entry point into Kentucky through Churchill Downs Inc. DraftKings has a horse racing partnership with CDI, which could extend to KY sports betting.
Caesars announced its access through Keeneland and Red Mile Gaming & Racing.
The remaining entities have yet to announce partnerships in the Bluegrass State. Eads acknowledged the agency is accepting applications from tracks and service providers.
Kentucky access points for sports betting
Kentucky sports betting law allows the nine horse racing tracks to hold licenses. Each license allows a track to partner with up to three online sportsbook providers.
The licensees can also open in-person sportsbooks at their track and connected facilities.
Commission staffing for sports betting
The KHRC continues to fill the 14 positions it was granted to roll out sports betting. During Wednesday’s meeting, Sen. Christian McDaniel asked if those positions would be enough to responsibly launch the industry without a severe issue like the Alabama baseball scandal in Ohio.
“It’s a bad case, [we’re] watching them get decimated,” McDaniel said, asking if the KHRC needs more support. “[We want to] get you off the ground properly.”
Eads told the committee that the 14 new employees would be enough. She said the KHRC could also grow to include 10 more sports betting hires in the future.
“In Ohio, they have professional teams, casinos, racinos, a lot more locations, a lot more volume, a lot more population,” Sen. Damon Thayer, who sponsored the enacting legislation, told the committee. “We’re going to do things better than Ohio, we usually do.”
Moving quickly toward September
Beshear signed HB 551 into law March 31, which went into effect June 28. The turnaround to September 7 will be among the fastest bill signing-to-launch timelines, along with markets like Arizona and Kansas.
Thayer credited Eads and the KHRC for quickly building the regulations.
“The Racing Commission has done a really good job of keeping Rep. [Michael] Meredith and I updated,” Thayer said. “One of the benefits of being one of the last states to pass sports betting is we’ve had 37 or so jurisdictions to look to for best practices and what did and didn’t work. I have full confidence in the commission’s ability to promulgate the regs and oversee sports betting.”