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Kentucky approves temporary sports wagering licenses

23 Aug 2023

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Governor Andy Beshear announced yesterday that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) voted to approve temporary licenses for sports wagering operators and service providers. A temporary license grants up to one year of operation in the state while under continued review. With the approval of these licenses, Kentucky bettors now know the retail facilities where they can place a sports wager and which mobile applications will be licensed in the state.

“The countdown continues as we move closer to sports wagering with retail locations opening in just 16 days,” said Governor Beshear. “Thank you to the KHRC commissioners for their dedication to getting this done right and getting it done in time for the opening of the NFL season.”

“We are excited to open sports wagering on our target date as we continue working through this careful process dedicated to wagering integrity and protecting bettors in the state of Kentucky,” said KHRC Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz.

The following Kentucky racetracks and their satellite facilities were approved to open a sportsbook with a planned retail opening on Thursday, 7 September:

  • Churchill Downs, Louisville
  • Derby City Gaming, Louisville
  • Ellis Park, Henderson
  • The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland Run, Corbin
  • The Mint Gaming Hall Cumberland, Williamsburg
  • Newport Racing and Gaming, Newport
  • Oak Grove Gaming and Racing, Oak Grove
  • The Red Mile, Lexington
  • Turfway Park, Florence

The following were approved, with facilities coming soon:

  • Derby City Gaming, coming soon to downtown Louisville
  • Ellis Park, coming soon to Owensboro
  • Sandy’s Gaming and Racing, coming soon to Ashland

The KHRC also voted to approve temporary licenses for nine service providers. Eight will operate mobile applications in Kentucky. Kambi was approved as a service provider for retail operations and will not have a mobile application. The service providers licensed to operate a mobile sports wagering application starting on Thursday, 28 September are:

  • bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook
  • BetMGM
  • Caesars Sportsbook
  • Circa Sports
  • DraftKings
  • Fanatics
  • FanDuel
  • Penn Sports Interactive

Sports wagering is expected to increase the state’s revenue by an estimated $23 million a year upon full implementation. The increase in revenue will support the oversight of sports wagering and then be dedicated to the Kentucky permanent pension fund. Additionally, 2.5% will support the problem gambling assistance account operated by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

House Bill 551 established a new excise tax on sports wagering: 9.75% on the adjusted gross revenues on wagers made at a licensed facility and 14.25% on wagers placed online or on a smart phone.

Last week, Governor Beshear announced a timeline for sports wagering to open in Kentucky. That timeline now moves closer to full implementation. Key dates for Kentuckians to remember include:

  • Monday, 28 August, at 6 a.m. EDT: Kentuckians can pre-register an account with approved mobile applications. Allowing pre-registration eases strains on electronic systems that can sometimes happen when many people try to register at once.

  • Thursday, 7 September, at 6 a.m. EDT: Wagerers can deposit money into their pre-registered mobile accounts only with approved mobile applications.

  • Thursday, 7 September, at 10 a.m. EDT: Wagerers can place an in-person bet at licensed retail facilities.

  • Thursday, 28 September, at 6 a.m. EDT: Approved mobile applications can start taking wagers.

Kentucky chose a tiered implementation, which has been used in multiple states and which allows for the testing of policies and procedures before the full rollout that includes mobile applications.

On 15 August, Governor Beshear signed an executive order appointing members of the Sports Wagering Advisory Council. The council will advise the full commission and provide additional voices who have direct knowledge of the sports betting industry. Appointed members include:

  • Public Protection Cabinet Secretary Ray Perry
  • KHRC Deputy Executive Director Waqas Ahmed
  • KHRC Commissioner William May
  • KHRC Commissioner Tiffany Daniels
  • KHRC Commissioner James Edwin Worley
  • Jonathan Blue, At-large member
  • Joyce Merritt, At-large member

Commissioner May will serve as council chairperson.
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