Kentucky sports betting has been legal for nearly a month, but new developments continue to emerge in the Bluegrass State. That was the case on Wednesday as a Las Vegas sportsbook revealed its plans for a brick-and-mortar location in the state.
The Nevada Independent reported Circa Sports will build a retail sportsbook at Kentucky Downs, a thoroughbred track in Franklin just north of the Tennessee state line. The track is also home to the state’s second-largest historical horse racing gaming hall in terms of handle and revenue.
Circa’s plans at Kentucky Downs do not come as a surprise. While the track did not apply for a sports betting license earlier this year, Cumberland Run, an Eastern Kentucky harness track and HHR hall predominantly owned by Kentucky Downs’ owners Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone, was approved for one by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Cumberland Run has partnerships in place with both DraftKings and Circa. The Circa partnership is just for online wagering.
Before a Circa sportsbook Kentucky brick-and-mortar facility can open at Kentucky Downs, the track must apply for and receive a license from the KHRC.
About Circa Sports
Circa Sports is the sports betting arm of Circa Resort and Casino, the downtown Las Vegas development owned by Derek Stevens. The $1 billion resort is home to a three-story sportsbook billed as the world’s largest. There’s also Circa Swim, which features six pools surrounding a 143-foot wide diagonal screen.
Besides Nevada, Circa Sports has licenses in Colorado and Iowa. It also just launched in Illinois, where Circa has a retail sportsbook inside Full House Resorts’ The Temporary. That’s the casino Full House established in Waukegan as it builds its American Place resort in the north suburb of Chicago.
Kentucky will be Circa’s fifth state. Its online app has already been approved by the KHRC, and while it did not launch last week like the seven other Kentucky sportsbook apps authorized to operate in the state, Circa officials have said they hope to launch here by the end of the year.
Circa has sought to set itself apart from other online sportsbooks that have emerged in the post-PASPA landscape. Rather than offer sign-up bonuses or promotional odds boosts, Circa believes it can attract bettors by offering high and conspicuous limits and odds with lower hold rates.
“Our philosophy is that we are looking to provide customers with value every day they bet with us, not just the first week,” Circa Sports Director of Operations Jeffrey Benson posted as part of a thread on X Monday.
How Circa Will Impact The Kentucky Market
Like most states with brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and online betting apps, Kentucky is expected to have a dominant online market, where retail books take in a small portion of the handle and revenue. So, with that said, why is a retail sportsbook planned for a small town big news? The primary answer is geography.
While Franklin is a small town, it’s roughly a half-hour away from the heart of Nashville, and while Tennessee does have 13 licensed online sports betting apps, Circa is not on the list. Tennessee also does not have casinos or gaming venues, like Kentucky Downs – where Winchell and Falcone have invested substantially to make the track a destination facility. Having a prominent retail partner like Circa will certainly help attract bettors looking for higher limits.
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