Kentucky’s Sports Betting Catalog Released Ahead of Market Launch

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As Kentucky gears up for the launch of its sports betting operations on September 7, the state has unveiled a comprehensive wagering market catalog detailing the sports and events on which residents can place their bets.

All the usual big leagues of U.S. sports have made the list, including the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. Some notable absentees for Kentucky’s sports bettors, at least at launch, include dog racing, Formula 1 Racing, the UFC’s spin-off slap fighting league, Power Slap, and the fast-growing sport of pickleball.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has recommended the sports catalog, which will be subject to a full vote by the regulator before the official launch of sports betting on the first day of the NFL season.

“Excitement for sports wagering is building as we are just one week away from opening retail locations and one month from opening mobile applications for sports wagering,” said Governor Andy Beshear.

“Kentuckians now know where they can place a bet and the type of sporting events and wagers that licensees can offer.”

What’s In and What’s Out?

The catalog, curated by regulators by examining other jurisdictions, includes major sporting leagues in the U.S.

The initial list comprises sporting events overseen by governing bodies that the commission is comfortable with after thorough research. It could see expansion in the future as newer sports upgrade.

While the catalog includes most major U.S. and international sports and eight eSports, there are several interesting niche additions.

For instance, events sanctioned by Major League Eating and the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest have made the cut.

The controversial Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf league is also on the list for Kentucky bettors, alongside the PGA. Eearlier this year, regulators in Massachusetts rejected DraftKings’ proposal to offer golf betting on the tour.

However, certain events and wager types didn’t make it to the initial offering.

Combat sports betting was mostly given the go-ahead, including wagering on the UFC and five different global boxing promotions. But the UFC’s spin-off slap fighting league, Power Slap, was not on the list.

Legal markets across the U.S. have been wary of offering bets on the controversial ‘sport,’ where contestants stand opposite each other across a podium and take turns slapping each other until one is knocked out.

KHRC Commissioner William May didn’t name the promotion specifically, but noted that the Commission had ruled out some options for being unsafe.

“I would not want for this body to recommend any activity that exists simply to maim someone or cause harm,” May said at the meeting.

Inaugural Bets Incoming

Hans Stokke, the Commission’s director of wagering, hinted at the possibility of expanding the catalog in the future.

He mentioned that while some markets weren’t suitable for the initial in-person launch, there’s potential for additions later on. Service providers can officially request the inclusion of more markets.

On the subject of pickleball, recently added to FanDuel’s catalog in ten states, Stokke was specifically optimistic.

“It is an exciting sport,” he said.

“Once we’re more comfortable with the governing bodies that pickleball is subject to, and as long as we can vet those, it could be something we could consider in the future. Our research so far hasn’t allowed us to get that far with pickleball. But it’s something we’d love to see in the catalog going forward.”

Churchill Downs Inc. is set to open six in-person sportsbooks on September 7th, including one at its Churchill Downs Racetrack. Governor Beshear is slated to place the state’s inaugural bet at 10 a.m. Other major players like BetMGM, bet365, Caesars, DraftKings, and Circa Sports are also gearing up for the launch.

Online sports betting is also on the horizon, with the state’s nine horse racing tracks allowed to partner with up to three online service providers. The KHRC has already approved eight initial online sportsbook brands this month, and Kentucky bettors began registering online accounts on August 28th.

The introduction of sports betting in Kentucky is anticipated to annually bolster the state’s revenue by an estimated $23 million. This revenue will primarily support the oversight of sports wagering and subsequently be dedicated to the Kentucky permanent pension fund.

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