Kentucky sports betting law won’t officially take effect for another week, but state officials have been busy establishing the foundation for how they will regulate it.
During Tuesday’s Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting in Lexington, chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz announced that the agency will likely hold a special meeting in early July to review and approve regulations that agency staffers have been working on over the last couple of months.
Over the last couple of months, Rabinowitz said the commission has met with regulators from Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio who have offered Kentucky officials “tips learned from real-world experience.” At the same time, KHRC staff has met operators interested in coming to Kentucky and other stakeholders, such as the professional sports leagues, about key legal issues pertaining to sports betting.
The commission hopes to begin filling 14 positions that will handle sports wagering responsibilities within the agency, and the state has signed Gambling Laboratories International to provide staff training on sports betting matters.
“All of this groundwork was in preparation for drafting the administrative regulations that will govern sports wagering, and we can report… initial drafts have been shared with our licensed associations and industry stakeholders and will be available for public review at khrc.ky.gov in the next few weeks,” Rabinowitz said.
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Two-Tiered Approach to Regulations Likely
When it comes time to pass the regulations, the KHRC will likely look to pass both emergency regulations allowing it to begin the licensing process immediately and the permanent regulations requiring legislative review before they’re enacted.
The Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 551 at the end of its 2023 session on March 30. While Gov. Beshear officially signed the measure into law that night, the law won’t officially take effect until 90 days after the session ended. That milestone hits next week.
Under the law, the state’s nine racetracks can offer sports betting at their facilities, including satellite venues hosting historical horse racing machines. Each track may also partner with up to three online sports betting operators. We have expert coverage on all the best Kentucky sportsbook apps, here on BetKentucky.com.
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Two Big Questions
There are a couple of big questions that remain in Kentucky about sports betting. One is when exactly sports betting will launch. Beshear has called on sports betting to start by the beginning of the NFL season but has also said the state ensures it rolls it out properly.
The other will be both online and in-person wagering launch simultaneously.
“That’s an ongoing discussion, and a lot has to do with the technicalities of can we get things ready by then, in terms of the mobile versus bricks and mortar,” Rabinowitz told BetKentucky.com after Tuesday’s meeting. “There’s a lot of discussion on that.”
The work behind the scenes to get everything the regulations in place that will allow the state to begin accepting applications has been an around-the-clock effort. This past weekend representatives from GLI sat in on lengthy phone calls with commission leaders to provide advice on the upcoming launch.
Rabinowitz also credited Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Jordan Maynard, a Kentucky native, for providing some salient advice.
“He wasn’t lying to me when he said you will talk about this every day, work on it every day, and it will consume everything until we roll out the drafts,” the chairman said.
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