Circa Sports has big plans for Kentucky sports betting.
The Las Vegas-based sportsbook was one of the first seven operators to apply for a license, Gov. Andy Beshear announced last week. Those applications are expected to be reviewed and possibly approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.
Other applicants include Bet365, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Penn Interactive.. Circa currently has the smallest footprint of the initial applicants as it’s only available now in Colorado, Iowa and Nevada, with a launch in Illinois planned for later this year. However, Jeff Benson, the sportsbook’s director of operations, gave several reasons why Kentucky was “an attractive state” for Circa.
“The regulatory framework in KY with favorable remote registration made KY an attractive state for us to enter and gives us a bonafide presence on the East Coast,” Benson said in an email to BetKentucky.com. “It will be exciting to expand into our fifth state and bring sports betting the way it should be to all involved.”
Kentucky’s license fee for sports betting operators is $50,000 with a $10,000 annual renewal. Tracks partnering with sportsbooks will pay $500,000 for their license and $50,000 yearly. Each track can partner with up to three online app providers.
Circa opened in Nevada in June 2019 and was created by Nevada casino owner Derek Stevens, who opened the $1 billion Circa Resort and Casino in Downtown Vegas in 2020.
The sportsbook bills itself as “sports betting the way it should be” on its website. Where most online operators pitch same-game parlays and promotional bonuses, Circa focuses on more traditional sports betting offerings and touts high limits available to all comers.
With six of Kentucky’s seven neighboring states having already legalized sports betting, most of Kentucky's applicants are already in several adjacent markets. For years, thousands of Kentuckians have crossed state lines to place their bets with the likes of FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars. Residents will soon have their own Kentucky sportsbook apps to place wagers on.
If the KHRC approves a Circa Kentucky license, it will give KY a sportsbook currently unavailable in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, meaning bettors in those states would have a reason to drive to the Bluegrass State.
Online First For Circa in Kentucky
For now, Circa’s planning to be online only in Kentucky, but Benson said the sportsbook may consider a brick-and-mortar location in the state at some point.
In-person sportsbooks at Kentucky’s tracks and historical horse racing satellite venues can open on Sept. 7 if the KHRC approves them for licensure.
Online sportsbooks can start taking bets on Sept. 28 across the state.
“We hope to be available to operate online as soon as possible, but timing is TBD at the moment,” Benson said.
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