7 Online Gambling Operators Applied for Kentucky Sports Betting Licenses

Seven online gambling operators applied for licenses to operate sites when Kentucky’s esports and sports betting marketplace launches, the governor announced on Aug. 10. Retail sports betting is still scheduled to debut on Sept. 7, when the NFL season kicks off. Then online gambling begins on Sept. 28.

Gov. Andy Beshear said today that the following online gambling operators applied for a sportsbook license:

  • Bet365
  • BetMGM
  • Caesars
  • Circa
  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • Penn Sports Interactive

Beshear also mentioned today during his Team Kentucky Update that seven of the state’s nine licensed racetracks applied to open retail sportsbooks at their satellite locations. His announcement also emphasized that the 14 applications aren’t done deals.

During its Aug. 22 meeting, the esports and sports betting regulator – the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) – will vote on the applications. That’s also when the commission will hear from the public about the temporary sports betting regulations approved by the KHRC and Beshear on July 10. The hearing on the permanent rules is slated for Sept. 22.

Who Are These Online Gambling Operators?

The licensee hopefuls are household names among online gambling operators – except for one.

Penn Entertainment (Penn Entertainment 16,70 -1,24%) announced on Tuesday it was rebranding its apps as ESPN Bet this fall, which may mean that the brand will debut in Kentucky.

However, Barstool Sportsbook operates in 16 jurisdictions. So the rebrand may happen simultaneously.

As for the rebrand itself, many of Penn Sports’ sites bore the Barstool name until Tuesday. That’s when Penn Entertainment said it sold Barstool Sports back to its controversial founder, Dave Portnoy.

The other six names break down this way:

  • FanDuel Sportsbook is the No. 1 sports betting operator in the US, with 47% of market share during Q2 2023.
  • DraftKings comes in second, with a 32% “share of gross gaming revenue in the second quarter,” says Legal Sports Report. LSR is a Catena Media publication, as is Bonus.
  • BetMGM Sportsbook held 11% of the North American sports betting market share during H1 2023, as well as 27% of online casino gambling. BetMGM still claims it’s No. 1 in online casino market share, but LSR says DraftKings is claiming it’s No. 1 “in iGaming gross revenue” with 27% of the market in Q2 2023.
  • Bet365 has a small footprint in the US but is one of the top European online gambling operators.
  • Caesars Sportsbook, like one of BetMGM’s owners, has a well-known retail casino brand. Caesars Entertainment bills itself as the “largest gaming company in the US” and offers more than 50 global destinations.
  • Circa Sports is also a small operator that emphasizes its betting limits for gamblers are higher than those of other sports betting operators. It’s an interesting approach in America’s current attitude toward legal sportsbooks of a need for stricter regulation of marketing and advertising claims, as well as a push for responsible gaming.

Retail Sports Betting Facilities Listed

The bill Beshear signed into law on March 31 allowed Kentucky’s nine licensed racetracks to partner with up to three online gambling operators.

However, only seven operators applied.

Similarly, regulators received applications for retail sportsbooks from seven of the state’s licensed racetracks:

  • Churchill Downs, Louisville
  • Cumberland Run, “coming soon” to Corbin
  • Ellis Park, Henderson
  • Oak Grove Gaming and Racing, Oak Grove
  • The Red Mile, Lexington
  • Sandy’s Gaming and Racing, “coming soon” to Ashland
  • Turfway Park, Florence

Voting on whether to approve those licenses is also on the Aug. 22 commission agenda.

The Promise of Kentucky Sports Betting

Kentuckians excited about sports betting have been asking state leaders many of the same questions.

Anyone 18 and older within the state’s borders will be able to bet on the following:

  • professional sports
  • sanctioned college sports
  • amateur and international sporting events, such as the Olympics and World Cup soccer, and esports. Esports involves betting on the outcome of video gaming tournaments

The “frequently asked questions” page even leads to an online portal for license applicants to check their status. It’s a good bet, though, that they’ll attend the Aug. 22 commission meeting.

Beshear said today:

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.

Kentucky expects to receive $23 million in annual tax revenue. That comes from a 14.25% tax rate on online sportsbooks and a 9.75% tax rate on retail sportsbooks.

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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