With License Approvals, Kentucky Sportsbooks Nearly Off To The Races

Written By Derek Helling on August 22, 2023 - Last Updated on August 24, 2023
race horses line up next to outline of kentucky

Kentucky gaming regulators have been moving at a pace that would earn the respect of any horse trainer at Churchill Downs. On Tuesday, they took another significant step toward approving sportsbooks to start taking bets as soon as next month.

Members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) voted to approve multiple sports wagering license applications on Tuesday afternoon. It isn’t the final step before that activity can begin in Kentucky but few of those remain now.

KHRC approves first set of sports betting licensees

Tuesday was a winning day for those parties which have applied for licenses to take bets on sporting events in Kentucky. The KHRC approved all complete applications it has received so far. The newly licensed entities in terms of taking bets in-person are:

  • Churchill Downs
  • Cumberland Run
  • Ellis Park Racing & Gaming
  • Oak Grove Racing & Gaming
  • Red Mile Racing & Gaming
  • Sandy’s Racing & Gaming
  • Turfway Park Racing & Gaming

Additionally, the KHRC approved eight licenses pertaining to online sports betting. The roster of national favorites now licensed in Kentucky is:

  • Bet365
  • BetMGM
  • Caesars
  • Circa
  • DraftKings
  • Fanatics
  • FanDuel
  • PENN Interactive (ESPN Bet)

Of the above online sportsbooks, most have already announced their partnerships in the state with land-based facilities. For example, BetMGM is working with Sandy’s while Caesars has signed on with Red Mile. FanDuel landed the enviable spot of Churchill Downs partner.

Until Tuesday, DraftKings’ collaborative status in Kentucky was still up in the air. That is no longer the case.

DraftKings teams up with Cumberland Run

Prior to Tuesday’s KHRC meeting, DraftKings announced its partnership with ECL Corbin, LLC. That is a subsidiary of ECL Entertainment, which operates the Mint Gaming Hall at Cumberland and Cumberland Run.

Corbin properties will feature physical DraftKings Sportsbooks as a result of the partnership, pending regulatory approval. Those could open as soon as Sept. 7 based on the latest updated from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Beshear stated that online sports wagering probably wouldn’t begin until Sept. 28 at the earliest, however. All these dates are tentative even with the license approvals. Regulators still need to inspect premises and systems in order to ensure compliance before giving final approvals.

With those licenses now awarded, recipients can finish preparations for those inspections. The onset of legal sports betting in Kentucky could now just be weeks away.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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