All the eyes of the sports betting industry are on Kentucky these days before the launch of retail sportsbooks and digital platforms in the state. According to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), the operators want the Kentucky licenses since seven horse tracks and seven mobile sports betting companies applied for them.
A battle for licenses:
The dates are set: September 7th, which is also the first day of the NFL season, is when the retail sportsbooks will be launched, and later the same month, on September 28th, the digital platforms will welcome their first customers.
At a KHRC meeting that will be held on August 22nd, the question of licenses will be on the table, and it will be decided who will get the license under the new law.
Nine tracks have the right to apply for a Kentucky license, and among the conditions they have to fulfill are on-site retail sportsbooks, as well as brick-and-mortar books, and required satellite locations. Also, they’re obligated to have at least three partners for their digital operations.
The KHRC announced the names of operators who applied for licenses. Digital operators are bet365, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Circa, DraftKings, FanDuel, as well as Penn Sports Interactive.
The operators are preparing for this: just recently, BetMGM partnered with Sandy’s Racing and Gaming, and Caesars signed an agreement with Keeneland Race Course so they can get brick-and-mortar sportsbooks available at Keeneland and Red Mile, along with the digital platform.
PENN Entertainment’s Penn Sports Interactive is also preparing for the license. The company plans to launch a brand-new ESPN BET platform in November, which follows the transition from Barstool Sportsbook the company uses now. However, the September launch is still questionable since the company didn’t clarify if the sportsbook would be launched under the Barstool or wait for ESPN BET’s launch in November.
On the other hand, everyone was surprised that Fanatics hadn’t applied for the license.
FanDuel will get digital access through the partnership with Churchill Downs Inc, and the horse-racing partnership with DraftKings is also still active. However, there is also speculation that a CDI-branded sportsbook will be on the track.
Apart from Churchill Downs, other track applicants are Sandy’s and The Red Mile, Cumberland Run, Ellis Park, Oak Grove Gaming and Racing, and Turfway Park. Everyone was surprised that Keeneland was missing from the list, though.
Governor Andy Beshear said in a press release: “The countdown is on. Kentuckians can plan to place their first sports wagers, at a retail location, in just 28 days. Bringing sports wagering to the state not only gives Kentuckians a much-anticipated new form of entertainment but also brings money to the state to support pensions, freeing up money that can be used to build a better Kentucky through the funding of education, economic development, disaster recovery and other necessary projects, like providing cleaner water, building roads and high-speed internet.”