Kentucky Sports Betting Set for September Launch, Rules Approved by Regulator

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The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has taken a major step this week toward the implementation of Kentucky’s upcoming legal sports betting market.

From July 10, operators can start applying for licenses in the Bluegrass State.

In a special meeting, the commission voted unanimously to review and approve its own draft of sports betting rules and regulations.

The meeting also confirmed a September launch date. Specifically, September 7 for retail betting, and September 28 for mobile betting.

September 7 — as state regulators and politicians suggested they were aiming for — is the first day of the NFL season.

“This action means that Kentuckians may make their first-ever sports bet in Kentucky, 59 days from now,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear in a press conference after the rules were approved.

“59 days will be just in time for the NFL kickoff, tailgating, and for a large part of the college football season.”

Great Day for Kentucky

The move comes after the state legislature gave the green light to sports betting earlier in 2023, becoming the 37th state with a legal market. The regulator began to hire compliance experts needed to draft a rule set in June.

Those rules have now been adopted in preparation for launch, and operators can start applying for licenses.

“What a great day for team Kentucky,” said Commission Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz.

“The KHRC is ready to do the work of getting associations licensed and ready to take sports wagers. Starting tomorrow, licencing will open and the KHRC staff will start reviewing applications when we see them,” he said in a press conference after the meeting.

The state’s nine racetracks will now be eligible to apply for sports betting licenses. That includes the three online operators who could potentially partner with each.

That means a maximum of 27 operators could soon be licensed in Kentucky, providing opportunities for established online sports betting brands and smaller firms looking to enter the market.

Michael Meredith (R-19), the sponsor of house Bill 551 that legalized Kentucky sports betting back in March, also spoke at the post-vote press conference.

“Today is a long-awaited day for Kentuckians across the breadth and depth of the commonwealth, who have wanted sports wagering now for many, many years,” he said.

Reviewing Applications

The commission will now begin the process of reviewing applications and issuing licenses to qualified applicants.

They will ensure that retail and online sportsbooks comply with the newly certified regulatory requirements before authorizing the commencement of sports betting activities.

“We have reviewed voluntary submissions from industry stakeholders, consulted technical criteria with independent wagering experts, and visited several jurisdictions to review their operations,” said Deputy Executive Director Waqas Ahmed, speaking before the vote.

In preparation for the licensing process, the KHRC is in the process of hiring 14 new employees.

Confirmed Entrants

Currently, only three operators from a possible 27 have confirmed intentions to enter the market.

Churchill Downs Inc. is the owner of Kentucky’s largest racetrack and a national gaming operator. It has not confirmed which sports betting partners, if any, it will be working with.

“All of our facilities throughout the state were designed with this possibility in mind, and will be ready to offer sports betting under the regulations and timing of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission,” it has said previously in a statement.

Caesars Entertainment and BetMGM have also confirmed the intention to launch in Kentucky, so they will now be able to apply for licenses.

Related: BetMGM vs Caesars Sportsbook – our expert comparison guide

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