Kentucky sports betting regulations may be approved in “early July.” So says Jonathan Rabinowitz, chairman of the regulatory body, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC).
That will be a special commission meeting, as its regularly scheduled gathering isn’t until Aug. 15.
While that doesn’t contradict Gov. Andy Beshear’s recent statement that sports betting will launch before the NFL season, it’s not promising to, either.
During today’s commission meeting, Rabinowitz said the retail and online esports and sports betting marketplace will happen “in a timely and responsible manner.”
Rabinowitz provided a sports wagering update at the beginning of the hour-long meeting. However, HB551 wasn’t on the agenda.
Esports and sports betting were legalized in March for those 18 and older.
The law outlines a 14.25% tax rate on online sportsbooks and a 9.75% rate on retail sports betting. Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI), that city’s chamber of commerce, estimates the marketplace will generate $23 million in annual revenue. Esports betting, which relates to video game tournaments, will likely provide the smallest portion of that revenue.
So far, Bet365 Sportsbook and Caesars Sportsbook have announced that they plan to offer sports wagering in the state. Many more online gambling operators may declare their intentions soon.
Rabinowitz on Kentucky Sports Betting Regulations
While many hoped today’s commission meeting would include a firm esports and sports betting launch date, it instead included a progress update from Rabinowitz.
He said that “in the next few weeks,” members of the public will be able to review proposed esports and sports betting regulations when they’re posted on the commission’s website.
Industry stakeholders are reviewing drafts of the administrative regulations “that will govern sports wagering,” Rabinowitz told the commission today.
To help write the Kentucky sports betting regulations, the commission, the state’s Public Protection Cabinet (PPC), and others have been doing research.
Rabinowitz told commissioners today:
For the past two months, members of the KHRC staff, KHRC commissioners, and members of the PPC have been meeting with regulators from other states, industry experts, service providers, and licensed associations with the goal of drafting clear and concise administrative regulartions to govern sports wagering in Kentucky.
Meeting with state regulators in Massachusetts, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, and Colorado have provided valuable insight into best practices.
Many of these regulators have recently rolled out sports wagering in their states and provided tips learned from real-world experience.
One of those states with “real-world experience” may double its tax rate on sportsbooks next month. Ohio launched sports betting on Jan. 1 with a 10% tax rate on operators. On Jan. 31, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine proposed increasing the tax rate to 20% in the budget he submitted for Fiscal Year 2024. Lawmakers are still deciding whether they’ll follow his guidance. If they do, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) estimates doubling the tax rate will mean more state revenue – “likely in the tens of millions per year.”
Kentucky Met With Sportsbook Operators, MLB
Rabinowitz said Kentucky regulators are doing their research.
He said meetings included:
- Talking to sportsbook service providers about their technology so Kentucky can “protect the integrity of wagering.”
- Researching problem gambling programs in Ohio to inform Kentucky’s program with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
- Commission legal counsel discussing “emerging legal issues in wagering” with MLB representatives.
New KHRC Staff, Training
Rabinowitz said that the commission contracted with Gaming Labs International (GLI) for consulting services and staff training.
Plus, the commission created 14 roles dedicated to sports wagering, he said.
On May 31, Beshear announced the commission was hiring.
Today, Rabinowitz said the commission is making progress on hiring sports wagering leaders, investigators, analysts, and administrators.
Kentucky Fits in the Big Picture
June’s been a busy month for legal online gambling.
On June 14, North Carolina legalized esports and sports betting. That marketplace is scheduled to launch during the first half of 2024.
By next month, Ohio lawmakers may double the tax rate on sportsbooks.
Any day now, Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee may sign an online casino gambling bill into law. On June 15, the Rhode Island General Assembly sent him HB6348/SB948.
This is all happening after most legislatures have adjourned for the year.