The person in charge of ramping up Kentucky sports betting oversight operations comes to the state from a biometric security firm.
Hans Stokke posted on his LinkedIn page last week that he’s joining the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. While his official position, according to state personnel records, is executive advisor, Stokke has “Director of Sports Wagering” as the headline under his name on his page.
“Career Pivot! I’m honored to announce my appointment to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as an Executive Advisor,” he posted. “I’ll be building out a new department to inspect and enforce compliance laid forth in regulations filed today pursuant to KY HB 551.”
House Bill 551 is the measure the Kentucky General Assembly passed, and Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law in March. Beshear approved emergency regulations last Monday. Those rules took effect that day and will be in place while permanent regulations go through a review process.
Beshear, who is running for re-election this fall and made sports betting legalization a key part of his campaign platform four years ago, announced last week that brick-and-mortar sportsbooks can start taking bets on Sept. 7. Online wagering will begin three weeks later.
Stokke, along with KHRC Executive Director Jamie Eads and Deputy Executive Director Waqas Ahmed, is scheduled to appear before the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue when it meets Wednesday afternoon in Frankfort.
No details about the committee’s agenda item on sports betting were available this weekend.
Advisor Previously Worked For CLEAR
A message to Stokke through his LinkedIn account was not immediately returned over the weekend. Neither was a message to the KHRC spokesperson.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Stokke worked for CLEAR for more than four years. For the last two years, he served as a General Manager for the company’s Cincinnati and San Diego territories.
CLEAR is a biometric security company best known for a paid membership program that expedites the identity screening process for travelers at select airports. There is also a free expedited service for people to use when attending events at select stadiums and arenas.
CLEAR also developed a solution that combined an individual’s identification and COVID-19 vaccination status, allowing them to gain quicker entry to facilities that required proof of vaccination during the pandemic. The company also offers a service that can validate an individual’s professional credentials in real time and provide updates when a license has been revoked or its status updated.
A job description for a CLEAR GM says general managers are in charge of overseeing the daily operations of their teams. That includes having responsibility for “for the team’s comprehension and adherence to operational/security procedures, laws, regulations and company directives.”
Stokke’s background, according to his LinkedIn profile, also includes management positions at Jamba Juice and Hertz.
Kentucky is far from the only state to have individuals without sports betting industry experience appointed to regulatory positions. It’s a notion that is worrisome to some in the business. However, there are others who believe someone from the outside may be more willing to accept feedback from operators regarding the regulatory process.
More Hires, Training Planned For Kentucky Sports Betting Regulators
The KHRC said it plans to hire 14 individuals to oversee sports betting in the state. In addition, Eads said the Public Protection Cabinet – the agency over the commission – would be able to provide about six additional staffers during the launch and additional state resources would become available as needed.
Gaming Laboratories International will provide in-person training for KHRC staff on its standards for event wagering and interactive gaming systems. It received a contract in May for $120,000 that will run through June 2024.
Besides the training, a description of the contract stated GLI also drafted the regulations and policies that state officials will use for testing and administration purposes.
Advisory Board Created
On Thursday, three days after signing the regulations, Beshear signed an executive order creating a Sports Wagering Advisory Council. It’s a seven-person board that will include the PPC Secretary, three members of KHRC, a KHRC staffer and two individuals appointed by the governor. One of the KHRC members will serve as chair of the panel.
Beshear told reporters that the council will provide “some additional voices at the table” to provide insights to state officials.
“The commission has traditionally been about regulation of the horse industry, and it, in many ways, is the perfect area to house sports betting,” the governor said. “But we recognize that having others that have direct knowledge of the sports betting industry can provide good advice to the commission.”
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