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In case you haven’t heard: On Monday, Kentucky officials approved emergency regulations to get the state’s sports betting industry launched Sept. 7 in retail sportsbooks and Sept. 28 for online betting. As of Tuesday, sports betting is officially 58 days from launch in the Bluegrass State.

So … what’s next? How do we get from “Yay! Regulations are approved!” to launch month?

By golly, we’re glad you asked. Allow Gaming Today to share this guide with you.

License Applications Are Now on the Clock

Since the Kentucky sports betting emergency regulations have already been filed with the state, eligible operators in Kentucky — the state’s nine horse racetracks — could begin filing their sports betting license applications on Tuesday.

They will apply for what’s called an operator’s license — which is essentially a retail sportsbook license. Whichever sportsbook companies they partner with for online sportsbooks will have to apply for what’s called a service provider license — essentially an online sportsbook license.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday that racetracks could begin applying for their retail licenses on Tuesday. It wasn’t immediately clear when future Kentucky apps could apply for mobile licenses.

However, we can only assume the doors for those applications will open soon. Perhaps Kentucky must approve the racetrack license applications before they can process the application of a racetrack’s partner, such as Caesars Kentucky and FanDuel Kentucky.

The regulations dictate sportsbook operators can only launch in Kentucky if they are live in three other US jurisdictions.

Sportsbook Partnership Announcements Are Coming

Speaking of partnerships …

Now that regulations have been approved, we can expect to hear about more sports betting partnerships with eligible venues in the coming weeks.

A representative of Sandy’s Racing & Gaming, for instance, told Gaming Today an announcement could come as soon as the end of this week or early next week — “very, very close” the representative said. Conor Lucas, the owner of Sandy’s, previously told Gaming Today they hoped to land a deal with one of “the big four” sportsbooks. Does that mean a partnership with BetMGM Kentucky or DraftKings Kentucky is in the works?

Kentucky Downs, meanwhile, sent Gaming Today this statement:

“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission only just approved the sports-betting regulations for Kentucky. We continue the process of doing our due diligence before making concrete plans. We are not in a position to further comment at this time but look forward to sharing details down the road.”

We also know Churchill Downs Inc. has made other deals in addition to partnering with FanDuel. It has worked with Bet365 in Pennsylvania, so logic dictates it may also help launch a Bet365 Kentucky in its home state.

Public Comment Period for Regulations

The emergency regulations (which will govern sportsbooks launching) and ordinary regulations (which will govern sportsbooks long-term) were posted to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s website on Tuesday. They are the same.

There will be a public hearing on the emergency regs on Aug. 22 and written comments will be accepted through Aug. 31. The Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee will review the regulations at its September meeting.

Then there will be a public hearing on the ordinary regs on Sept. 22 and written comments will be accepted through Sept. 30. The Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee will review the regulations at its October meeting.

From now until the dates listed above, Kentuckians and industry stakeholders may submit written comments regarding the ordinary regulations, and the KHRC can choose to amend or add to the regulations based on those comments.

Vetting From KHRC, Third Parties

The KHRC has contracted Gaming Labs International to help with a review of the technical components of license applications. Waqas Ahmed, deputy executive director of the KHRC, also listed components they’ll pay close attention to in license applications ahead of the September launch.

“We evaluate factors like regulatory compliance, financial capacity, public interest, qualifications, criminal history, tax law compliance, and contracted parties,” Ahmed said. “Additionally, we have implemented guidelines ensuring precise and timely submission of information from licensees.”

In addition, the KHRC said the technical aspects of the license applications are broken into two main categories: gaming standards and responsible gaming provisions. In other words: How will sportsbooks ensure the integrity of betting on their platforms, and how will sportsbooks ensure the gambling safety of their customers?

More Hires to Be Made

The KHRC announced Monday it had made progress in hiring 14 employees to assist with sports wagering regulation.

This process will continue.

“If we need more, we’ll get more,” KHRC Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz said. “And the governor has gone out of his way to make sure we have all the staffing and the resources to get the job done.”

Awarding of Licenses

If Kentucky regulators approve license applications, a temporary license will be awarded. These licenses last for one year, and they’ll need to be renewed each year.

If everything goes according to plan, Kentucky will go from Gov. Beshear signing the sports betting bill to online sports betting launching in just under six months — one of the fastest launches in US history.

About the Author
Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain is a contributor to Gaming Today. Before joining Catena Media in 2022, Bain spent six years with the USA TODAY Network as a reporter and deputy sports editor at the Des Moines Register. A California native, Bain helped spearhead Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 coverage. He has led Catena Media’s coverage of the Massachusetts sports betting launch and the legalization of Kentucky sportsbooks.

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