18 Is Old Enough to Pre-Register at Some Kentucky Sportsbooks

By law, Kentucky sportsbooks can only serve bettors aged 18 and older. So as pre-registration opened at 6 a.m. on Aug. 28 for the state’s eight legal online sports wagering operators, it became apparent that some sites would adhere to Kentucky’s law rather than the industry standard of 21-plus.

Bet365 and DraftKings are sticking with the minimum legal gambling age. On March 31, Gov. Andy Beshear signed HB551 into law, which called for a legal gambling age of 18.

Bettors that age have been able to place wagers on horse racing and buy Kentucky Lottery tickets for years. So perhaps it’s no shock that 18-year-old gamblers will be able to pre-register on the apps, deposit there on Sept. 7, and fully wager on esports and sports betting on Sept. 28.

After all, Bet365 is big in Europe and declares on its X bio for that marketplace that it will only accept bets from gamblers 18 and older. In the US, Bet365 operates sportsbooks in six states, including Kentucky.

However, Boston-based DraftKings adopting an 18-plus policy in Kentucky is a bit of a bigger deal. Especially when it’s one of the Big Three US online casino gambling operators.

Within six hours of posting its Kentucky sign-up offer on X today, the DraftKings Sportsbook promo available to anyone “18+, physically present in KY” had been viewed 22,600 times.

Beforehand, Bonus had a hint about DraftKings’ minimum age decision. On Aug. 22, when regulators approved licenses for the eight sports betting operators, a DraftKings spokesman sent Bonus a nebulous quote that the company had been providing to publications since June.

On Aug. 22, DraftKings emailed Bonus the following:

“DraftKings is committed to following the age restrictions set forth by each individual jurisdiction.”

– Griffin Finan, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, DraftKings

Indeed, when asked today about Kentucky sportsbooks’ pre-registration progress, as well as which sites will be 18-plus, Bonus got another vague, emailed answer.

This time, the response was from Kristin Voskuhl, the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s (KHRC) Office of Communications and Public Outreach.

The spokeswoman for Kentucky’s gaming regulator told Bonus today:

Operators and service providers are required to ensure bettors on their platforms meet the minimum age of 18 for sports wagering in Kentucky. An operator or service provider may set their age limits higher than the minimum at their discretion.

So what’s the Big Deal About 2 Kentucky Sportsbooks Being 18+?

Bet365 and DraftKings (DraftKings 36,67 -4,38%) adopting 18-plus policies for Kentucky sportsbooks largely matters in the court of public opinion.

That’s because the controversy about allowing anyone under 21 to gamble is generally being debated outside of the Bluegrass State’s borders.

But rage it has.

The nadir of the debate about legal online gambling’s role in American society appeared to arrive on Nov. 20, 2022, with the publication of several New York Times articles critical of the industry. Shortly afterward, lawmakers proposed bills to curtail online sportsbook marketing and advertising. Regulators added more teeth to marketing rules.

Then the 2023 legislative calendar passed with few states legalizing any form of online gambling – representing a significant slowdown since 2018. That year, 2018, is when many states began legalizing online sports betting because the US Supreme Court made it possible.

Partly because of Americans’ backlash against what they believed was a glut of commercials, plus genuine concern about the industry’s future, the American Gaming Association (AGA) published the Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering on March 28, 2023.

An excerpt of the code says:

No sports betting message should be designed to appeal primarily to those below 21 – the prevailing legal age for sports wagering.

However, the AGA code is about operator marketing, not product terms.

Still, that’s a fine line to walk.

3 Kentucky Sportsbooks Will Be 21+

One of the online gambling operators sticking to its 21-and-older bettor promise today was FanDuel Sportsbook. Nationally, FanDuel has the largest sports betting market share. It’s unclear if the operator’s choice to limit wagering in Kentucky to gamblers aged 21 and older will help or harm its ranking in the Bluegrass State.

FanDuel Communications Director Alex Pitocchelli told Bonus today:

FanDuel Sportsbook will only be available to users 21+ in Kentucky.

BetMGM Sportsbook and Caesars Sportsbook will also only accept gamblers aged 21 and older.

What About the 3 Other Bluegrass State Sports Betting Sites?

Circa Sports is active in three states, where the site adheres to a legal gambling age of 21. However, like DraftKings, Circa partnered with land-based racetrack Cumberland Run. 

So gamblers may have to wait to see what Circa does. That may be a while, reports Marcus DiNitto of Gaming Today. Circa may decide to take its time before launching, writes the journalist for the Catena Media publication. Bonus is also a Catena brand.

Speaking of gaining clues through land-based gaming partners, Penn Sports Interactive is teamed up with Ellis Park Racing and Gaming. That may be the best clue about what will happen with that mobile license’s minimum age requirement, considering Kentucky Sports Wagering Director Hans Stokke said on Aug. 22 that Penn’s license was for Barstool.

Industry insiders were confused because they had expected to hear the name of Penn’s new partner, ESPN Bet. That’s because Penn just sold Barstool Sports back to its founder. Penn plans to rebrand its sites as ESPN Bet.

So looking at the Ellis Park sites, the gaming floor is restricted to those 21 and older. Plus, the retail sportsbook coming on Sept. 7 will also have that age requirement. Plus, the Players Club loyalty program is also 21-plus.

Still, it’s unclear what age minimum Penn’s app will pick.

Meanwhile, Fanatics was a late entrant to the license application pile but got approved on Aug. 22 to be a mobile sportsbook operator. While the Fanatics spokesman didn’t immediately respond to Bonus today, it’s a safe bet to believe Fanatics Sportsbook may be 21-plus.

That’s because the site is 21-plus in the four other states where it operates. Plus, Fanatics partnered in Kentucky with Oak Grove Gaming and Racing, which only allows those 21 and older onto its gaming floor and into its retail sportsbook that’s scheduled to open on Sept. 7.

Kentucky’s retail sportsbooks can begin taking bets on Sept. 7, the first day of the NFL season.

Again, clues don’t constitute conclusions.

Watching and Waiting

At least one industry watchdog has no problem with 18-year-old bettors venturing onto that retail sportsbook floor on Sept. 7, then gambling on the apps on Sept. 28.

Steve Ruddock, who writes Straight to the Point on Substack, said about the Kentucky sportsbooks and the gambling age:

Age-gating doesn’t prevent minors from gambling. What age-gating does is prevent minors from gambling with you.

Ruddock said on Aug. 11 that legal gambling ages vary by product, driving ages are as low as 16, and drinking ages are usually 21 and up. Then there’s the factor of brain development. In other words, some believe humans aren’t adults until they’re in their late 20s.

So should DraftKings wait until scientists decide Kentuckians are old enough to make “adult” decisions? Based on today’s product news, DraftKings’ answer was “no.”

Approved Kentucky sportsbooks: Bet365 Kentucky Sportsbook | BetMGM Sportsbook Kentucky | Caesars Sportsbook Kentucky | DraftKings Sportsbook Kentucky | FanDuel Sportsbook Kentucky

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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