First Kentucky Sports Betting Director No Longer at Horse Racing Commission

First Kentucky Sports Betting Director No Longer at Horse Racing Commission
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The person hired to serve as the first Kentucky sports betting wagering director has moved on.

According to his LinkedIn page, Hans Stokke left the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in December. He was hired on by the state regulatory body last summer as it was preparing to launch sports betting across the state.

In response to a message on the social media site asking about his departure, Stokke told BetKentucky.com he would be starting a new role in two weeks and could provide more details at that time.

Stokke came to the commission after working more than four years for CLEAR, a global biometric security company that offers subscription services for travelers who want to hasten their screening at select airports. That includes Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in Covington. CLEAR also provides similar services for 16 stadiums and arenas across the country.

His LinkedIn profile listed no experience in the gaming industry or for a government regulatory agency. The staff directory on the KHRC website currently lists no one as the sports wagering division’s director. A message seeking comment Tuesday was not immediately returned.

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Sports Betting Launched in September

Kentucky sports betting launched in September. Retail sportsbooks opened first at racetracks and historical horse racing gaming halls beginning Sept. 7, the same day as the start of the NFL’s regular season. Seven online wagering apps, bet365 Kentucky, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, ESPN BET (formerly Barstool Sportsbook), Fanatics and FanDuel, followed suit three weeks later.

The state’s General Assembly passed House Bill 551, sponsored by state Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, with bipartisan support on the final day of the 2023 session in late March, and Gov. Andy Beshear signed it into law.

That law took effect three months later, but KHRC officials used the interim period to meet with regulators in other states to identify best practices in regulating gaming activity. Beshear, who won re-election for a second four-year term in November, pushed for the September launch and used the legalization of Kentucky betting apps as part of his campaign.

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Sports Betting Reports Delayed

Most of the state tax proceeds from Kentucky sports betting operator revenues will go toward the state’s public pension system, with 2.5% earmarked for the first problem gambling assistance fund.

Since it launched, the commission has only released revenue data for September and October, which were released on Dec. 11. For the first two months, operators reported combined revenues of $340.8 million. All but $17.2 million was wagered through the online apps, with Kentucky sports betting mobile operators handling $286.8 million in October. FanDuel Kentucky led all operators in handle in October at $116 million. Through those first two months of legal wagering, the state received more than $7.9 million in taxes.

The Kentucky sports betting law requires operators to submit their tax filings every month, with the prior month’s report due by the 20th of the ensuing month. At the Dec. 11 KHRC meeting, Stokke said his department would audit those reports and release tax and handle data once the reports have been reconciled.

Last month, a KHRC spokesperson told BetKentucky.com they would be in contact when they had information on further reports. Every other state that releases sports betting handle and tax revenue figures has since released data for November. Some states have already posted December and plan to release January figures in the coming days.

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Author

Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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