Five sportsbooks have reportedly been in discussions with Kentucky sports betting regulators ahead of the Commonwealth’s pending launch in September.
Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) Executive Director Jamie Eads told the Kentucky General Assembly’s interim budget committee on Wednesday that her agency has talked to FanDuel, DraftKings, Circa, WynnBet, and BetMGM specifically. More sportsbooks — though unnamed Wednesday — may have also talked with the agency.
Up to three sportsbooks can partner with each of the state’s nine horse racing venues for retail and mobile sports betting under Kentucky law.
FanDuel and Caesars Sportsbook reportedly already have sports betting partnerships with Kentucky tracks in anticipation of launch in a couple of months. Caesars was not specifically mentioned by Eads in her remarks on Wednesday.
Eads also did not say how many tracks or service providers, if any, have applied for sportsbook licensing since the application process opened last week. Requests for information on sports betting application filings sent by Gaming Today to KHRC communications personnel have yet to get a response.
Kentucky Regulators Hiring GLI, New Staff Ahead of Launch
Kentucky has moved quickly to implement its sports betting program since the Commonwealth’s sports betting law took effect on June 29.
Emergency sports betting regulations took effect June 10, with permanent regulations filed the same day. Sports betting applications for sports betting licensure of tracks, service provider licensing, suppliers, and key sports betting employees have been accepted since July 11.
According to Wednesday’s testimony from Eads, KHRC has also entered into an agreement with national gaming consultant and testing company GLI (Gaming Labs International) for the state’s sports wagering rollout. Kentucky already had an agreement with GLI to test thousands of slot-like historical horse racing (HHR) gaming machines operating at gaming halls across the state.
Additionally, Eads told lawmakers that KHRC is hiring up to 14 sports wagering personnel ahead of launch. Some hires have been made, with others still pending.
Lawmaker Has ‘Full Confidence’ in Smooth Launch
Also testifying on the state’s sports betting rollout before the committee Wednesday was Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer. A horse industry veteran, the Georgetown Republican worked for years in cooperation with former State Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, and Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland to get sports betting passed in the Commonwealth.
“One of the benefits to being one of the last states to implement sports betting in America is we had 37 or 38 other jurisdictions to look to for best practices as well as things that didn’t work,” Thayer said Wednesday.
Thayer said 90 to 95 percent of Kentucky’s sports betting revenue is expected to come from mobile apps tied to the state’s tracks. Tax revenue is expected to meet or exceed $23 million annually, with 14.25 percent of taxable revenue drawn from mobile apps and 9.75 percent drawn from brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at tracks or simulcast halls.
Sports betting will help racetracks in the state “attract new fans to their pari-mutuel products,” Thayer told the committee — adding that the KHRC is the right regulatory agency for the job.
“I have full confidence in the KHRC’s ability to promulgate these regs and oversee sports betting,” said Thayer. “KHRC has been overseeing the pari-mutuel product in the Commonwealth for 100 years as well as the full implementation of HHR, simulcasting, advance deposit wagering, and going back 100 years, the original pari-mutuel wagering and live racing.”