Kentucky Sports Betting Regulations Expected to be Announced in July

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 21, 2023 12:00 AM
Kentucky sports betting regulations will be announced in July.

Kentucky sports betting is moving yet another step closer toward an official launch.

Does this mean an official debut date is on the horizon? We can't be sure. But the legal gambling process is at least moving along.

After settling on a tax rate and structure for Kentucky sports betting, the state is now set to officially approve their first batch of wagering rules and regulations. Jonathan Rabinowitz, Chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, announced the development on Tuesday, June 20. According to him, the regulations will be made available to the public on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's website sometime in the next few weeks. That puts their expected release on the docket for sometime in July.

Rabinowitz wouldn't provide any further details when asked. But he did seem optimistic that the Kentucky sports betting timeline is on the right track. “We will continue to provide updates on the progress as available,” he offered, per Gaming Today's Rebecca Hanchett. “But needless to say, this is an exciting time in the Commonwealth.”

Exciting times indeed. But what can we expect from the release of rules and regulations? And most importantly, when will online sports in betting Kentucky actually go live?

Expectations for Kentucky Sports Betting Rules and Regulations

Certain details from the state's impending regulations have already trickled out. As we previously mentioned, Kentucky decided on a tax rate and revenue allocation weeks ago. A 9.75 tax rate will be applied to retail sportsbooks, and a 14.25 percent rate will be assessed to online betting sites. Meanwhile, with the exception of 2.5 percent going to gambling addiction prevention, all of the proceeds from Kentucky sports betting will go towards the Permanent Pension Fund, which provides retirement, disability, insurance and other benefits to more than 410,000 public servants in the Bluegrass State.

This is roughly the extent of what we know. Everything else is mostly fuzzy, if not pure speculation. And that means the Kentucky sports betting rules and regulations have plenty of questions they'll need to answer. Chief among these questions: What will the online licensing requirements look like? And who are the favorites to land one?

Though Kentucky isn't the largest sports betting market, it has historically embraced select gambling forms more than many other places. Just look at their robust horse racing industry. Online operators will be chomping at the bit to crack a market that already has a preexisting track record. And there will initially be fierce competition to win licensing bids. While Kentucky has plans to expand their legal offerings, it isn't yet clear whether they'll be all-in to start. Here's Martin Green with more for the Lexington Herald Leader:

"HB 551 permits all nine horse racing tracks in Kentucky to open retail sports betting lounges on their premises. Kentucky Speedway can also open a retail sportsbook. All 10 of those venues will be permitted to host three online skins, meaning there could eventually be 30 online sportsbooks in the state. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which has been tasked with regulating the new industry, will spend the upcoming months considering license applications and laying down the foundations for the launch. "

Thirty online sportsbooks is a lot. We'd bet against every track having three separate runs by the time sports betting launches. Still, this plan is nothing if not evidence of how aggressively friendly the Kentucky sports betting market will be to gambling operators. It's also motivation for out-of-state online operators to get in early. If they don't enter the market right away, they risk forfeiting brand recognition and goodwill to more established operators.

Kentucky Race Tracks are Already Striking Partnerships with Online Sportsbooks

Race tracks throughout the state are wasting little time. Since they are all guaranteed licenses as of now, they've started linking up with some of the best online sportsbooks in the USA.

Multiple tracks, in fact, have already joined up with Caesars. Keeneland Race Course and Red Mile Racing and Gaming in Lexington struck a partnership with the sports betting Goliath back in May. Caesars also announced plans for a permanent retail sportsbooks at the Red Mile Racing location.

This effectively puts to bed any concerns that Kentucky would not be a hot sports betting property. Select skeptics wondered whether the absence of pro sports teams could hurt interest. But between the horse racing scene, a unique dedication to college football and basketball and the proximity to other pro sports markets, Kentucky hardly profiles as an afterthought.

On the contrary, initial projections have Kentucky generating at least $23 million per year in additional revenue. And that number stands to climb as they increase the number of sportsbooks over time.

When Will Kentucky Sports Betting Officially Launch?

For all we know about the future of Kentucky sports betting, we still don't have a concrete launch date.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which will oversee sports betting, has so far stuck to the "sometime in late 2023" timeline. Does that mean December? November? Will Kentucky sports betting be live in time for the 2023 NFL season, which kicks off in September?

Technically, next month marks the back half of 2023. Sports betting could theoretically go live anytime after July 1. But rolling it out for the summer still seems overly ambitious. The state will only be releasing their rules and regulations in July. The rest of the process will take time. Especially if the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission still needs to review—or even accept—licensing applications.

A concrete launch date would be nice. At the same time, we know Kentucky sports betting will be up and running before the end of the year. That beats not knowing anything at all.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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