WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – DraftKings celebrated its mobile launch in Kentucky on Thursday with a ceremonial first DK mobile Kentucky sports wager — a $100 bet by Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) host Matt Jones for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team to win the 2024 NCAA National Championship.
Jones, who is also co-owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) now featured in the Netflix series “Wrestlers”, had just wrapped up a broadcast of his KSR talk show at The Mint Cumberland gaming hall in Williamsburg as part of a mobile launch media event for DraftKings. As the crowd thinned, The Mint Cumberland General Manager Henry Graffeo turned to the next big event: the eventual arrival of local sports fans for Thursday night’s Lions-Packers game.
Then there’s Saturday. Graffeo is prepared for a full house when both the University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee play home games.
Graffeo told Gaming Today that DraftKings is part of the draw.
“We have a great partnership with DraftKings and we’ve worked out that partnership for both retail and online,” he said. “They are one of the best in the United States.”
Regional Sports Rivalries and Sportsbook Crowds
The Mint Cumberland — a mere 10 miles from the Tennessee border — is undoubtedly in Kentucky Wildcat country. But regional loyalties can be a funny thing when it comes to sports.
Graffeo told Gaming Today that the gaming hall gets its fair share of UT fans. That location (and The Mint Cumberland Run a few miles north in Corbin) has operated a DraftKings retail sportsbook through kiosks since Sept. 7. On UT game days, The Mint Cumberland gets busy.
Naturally, the same goes for UK game days.
Kentucky mobile sports betting will add to the excitement, said Graffeo.
“Because of sports betting, (the crowd) has gotten bigger and bigger,” Graffeo said. “We’ll have people sitting down watching the game and making wagers for the games while they’re watching.” The college sports fan crowds, he says, are among The Mint’s largest.
“If UK and UT are playing each other, the whole place is mobbed. And you’ll see orange and blue all over the place,” Graffeo told Gaming Today.
Revenue figures for retail sports betting at The Mint properties in Kentucky have not yet been released, he said. That data is expected to be released by state gaming regulators at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in the coming months.
A ‘Safe, Responsible Sports Betting Experience’
Before Jones placed the ceremonial first mobile bet today at The Mint Cumberland, DraftKings’ Senior Director of Gaming Partnerships Krista Thomas spoke about the Kentucky online launch and what it means for the sports betting company.
“We couldn’t be more excited to deliver our sportsbook product today to the sports fans of Kentucky,” said Thomas. “It’s been very exciting to see all the hard work and dedication over the past few months come to life with our celebration here today.”
“We’re committed to customer excellence and providing skin-in-the-game sports fans with an unparalleled experience, from the thousands and thousands of markets that we offer on our app to our promotions and signature same-game parlay features, there is no doubt that DraftKings is the place to bet,” she said.
For sports fans, Thomas said the DraftKings app offers a “safe, responsible sports betting experience.”
“The Crown is yours, Kentucky,” she said to applause.
The Mint Gaming in Kentucky is also partnered for mobile with Circa Sports. Although licensed in the state, Circa is reportedly postponing its statewide launch until later in 2023.
Six other sports betting apps launched statewide in Kentucky today in addition to DraftKings. Those are FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, Fanatics, Bet365, and Penn (Barstool, with a rebranding to ESPN Bet later this fall).