The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has had seven prominent U.S mobile sports betting operators submit license applications ahead of the launch of the state’s sports betting market in September.
On Thursday, August 10, the KHRC, the regulator in charge of administering the Kentucky market, announced the license applicants in a statement.
Among the notable names aiming for a slice of Kentucky’s sports betting pie are market-leading FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and Penn Sports Interactive. Penn will rebrand its current sportsbook to ESPN BET later this fall in the 16 states where it is licensed. The rebrand will include a mobile app, website, mobile website and mutually agreed-upon retail locations. It remains to be seen whether Penn will initiate its Kentucky operations under the Barstool banner ,or hold off until the ESPN BET platform is up and running.
Retail books will be open in the Bluegrass State from September 7, with digital counterparts following suit on September 28.
Related: The best sports betting options in Kentucky, right now
Who’s In The Race?
On the retail front, seven of Kentucky’s licensed racetracks have thrown their hats into the ring. The list includes Oak Grove Gaming and Racing in Oak Grove, Ellis Park in Henderson, The Red Mile in Lexington, and Turfway Park in Florence.
Churchill Downs, the state’s most popular racetrack and home of the Kentucky Derby, has also applied for a license. It has a long-term sponsorship deal with operator FanDuel. But a Kentucky market partnership has not yet been confirmed by either operator.
Additionally, two brand new, under construction venues have also applied for licenses – Cumberland Run in Corbin and Sandy’s Gaming and Racing in Ashland. BetMGM recently announced its partnership with Sandy’s, which will see a 5,200-square-foot sportsbook venue open at the racing, casino and entertainment center this fall.
Penn Entertainment recently sold Barstool Sports back to original founder Dave Portnoy, and promptly dropped the Barstool Sportsbook brand. It plans to reopen the sportsbook in collaboration with veteran international sports broadcaster ESPN under the brand name ESPN BET.
One notable absentee from the list many would have expected to see is Fanatics.
Countdown Is On
Governor Andy Beshear expressed his enthusiasm about the state’s foray into sports betting, emphasizing its potential economic benefits.
“The countdown is on. Kentuckians can plan to place their first sports wagers in just 27 days,” Beshear remarked.
He further highlighted that introducing sports wagering not only offers residents a fresh entertainment avenue, but also channels funds to bolster the state’s coffers. Such revenue can be redirected to vital sectors like education, economic development, and infrastructure projects, thereby fostering a more prosperous Kentucky.
The KHRC also promised that the licensing process, despite being expedited considerably, would still involve rigorous checks and protections.
“The KHRC is excited to open sports wagering and is working efficiently to meet the necessary deadlines. This is a careful process dedicated to wagering integrity and protecting bettors in the state of Kentucky,” Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz said.
Kentucky’s journey to legalizing sports betting culminated with Governor Beshear signing off on House Bill 551 earlier this year.
The legislation permits nine of the state’s racetracks to offer on-site retail betting. Moreover, each track can collaborate with up to three online operators, translating to a potential 27 licenses up for grabs.
The state has adopted a two-tier taxation system, with online platforms being taxed at 14.25% of their gross gambling revenue, while retail outlets are levied at 9.75%. The licensing fee is set at $500,000 for racetracks and $50,000 for online operators partnering with them.