Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has doubled down on plans to aggressively implement sports betting in the Bluegrass State.
In speaking to reporters during his weekly briefing Thursday in Frankfort, he said he was “confident” Kentucky sports betting will be ready for the start of the NFL season.
“We are not creating the wheel here,” he said. “The wheel has been created in many other states. So, our job is to look and to take the very best practices to make sure that bureaucracy does not slow us down.”
That includes bringing in members from the various state cabinets that will have any role in the rollout, and the governor said those agencies are reporting to him weekly or bi-weekly.
House Bill 551 passed the General Assembly on March 30, the final day of its 2023 session, and Beshear signed it into law that night with a ceremonial signing the next day.
Technically, the law will not be enacted until late June. The standard process in Kentucky is for all laws without an emergency clause to become official 90 days after the General Assembly session ends. However, that’s not stopping state officials from getting a head start.
HB 551 gives the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission direct oversight over sports betting. It gives the commission six months from the enactment date to have regulations in place for operators to begin taking bets.
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Will Kentucky Launch Sports Betting Quickly?
The key to a quick launch, the governor said, will be for the commission to pass a series of emergency regulations.
“We’ll need to think about this as really the launch and the initial period, where we’ll learn a few things, and then we will iron those out with the permanent program that will be implemented through the regular regulations that will go through all the various hearings and processes,” Beshear said.
That strategy sounds similar to the one Indiana officials used in rolling out sports betting four years ago. Kentucky’s neighbor needed less than four months from the expanded gaming bill becoming law to the opening of the first sportsbook. The launch in Indiana was not universal, with sportsbooks opening on a one-by-one basis, and apps and websites did not come on board until a month after the first retail books opened.
Last year, Kansas followed a similar timeframe, though it did have six operators launch on the same day in September. Brick-and-mortar sites opened on Sept. 1, with a soft launch for online occurring the same day. The full rollout for mobile took place a week later.
Get yourself up to speed with the best Kentucky sportsbook apps ahead of the expected launch.
Horse Racing In Kentucky Sports Betting Drivers Seat
Sports betting in Kentucky will go through the state’s racetracks. Each of the nine licensed tracks will be able to host a retail book at their locations and their satellite venues with historical horse racing machines. In addition, each track can partner with up to three online operators, meaning up to 27 mobile apps or websites could be approved by the KHRC.
No operator has yet to announce their intention to partner with a Kentucky track and seek a license, but as state officials plan for a quick launch, the partnership agreements should be announced in the coming months.
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