The inside of an American football stadium in the state of Kentucky during a big game, featuring thousands of spectators in the stands and two teams on the field.

Kentucky Launches Legal Sports Betting

Kentucky has officially entered the legal online sports betting arena on September 28, shortly after inaugurating its regulated retail wagering market. This development follows Governor Andy Beshear’s approval of House Bill 551 in April, which legalized both online and retail betting. The retail market commenced on September 7th, 2023 while the online segment was scheduled for a staggered launch.

The inside of an American football stadium in the state of Kentucky during a big game, featuring thousands of spectators in the stands and two teams on the field.

Kentucky finally opened its legal online sports betting arena on September 28th, 2023, coming in a few weeks after it inaugurated its regulated retail wagering market.
©Nik Shuliahin/Unsplash

Seven Operators Have Been Initially Approved for Online Market in Kentucky

Kentucky has taken a significant step in the world of sports betting as it officially launched legal online sports betting on September 28th, 2023. This move comes just weeks after the state inaugurated its regulated retail wagering market, marking a dual expansion in the realm of sports gambling.

The legislative groundwork for this expansion was laid when Governor Andy Beshear signed House Bill 551 into law in April. This bill effectively legalized both online and retail betting within the state. The retail market was quick to open its doors on September 7, while online betting was deliberately delayed for today as part of a well-planned, staggered launch.

In the online realm, Kentucky’s racetracks have the potential to partner with up to three online operators, alongside offering on-site retail betting. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has been actively involved in the licensing process, granting sports betting licenses to a roster of operators. Among them are industry giants like Bet365, BetMGM, Caesars, Circa, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Penn Sports Interactive. Notably, Fanatics, initially not part of the operator list, secured approval for its online sports betting platform.

Furthermore, the KHRC extended a service provider license to Kambi, although this license pertains exclusively to retail operations. Kentucky’s sports betting landscape is rapidly evolving, attracting both well-established industry leaders and emerging players eager to capitalize on this growing market.

Unique Operator Partnerships Will Be on Display in Newly Launched Market

As Kentucky kicks off its legal online sports betting journey, several major operators have already solidified their presence in the state’s wagering landscape. Bet365 and BetMGM are set to deliver mobile betting services in partnership with Sandy’s Racing and Gaming, while BetMGM will extend its reach to offer retail wagering as well.

Caesars, on the other hand, is gearing up to provide both retail and mobile betting experiences in collaboration with The Red Mile. Additionally, Caesars’ mobile betting services will be available through Betfair in conjunction with Turfway Park. Penn Sports Interactive has teamed up with Ellis Park to offer mobile betting, while Circa will bring mobile wagering to Cumberland Run.

DraftKings is flexing its muscles in Kentucky by partnering with Cumberland Run for retail betting and expanding its reach to Cumberland Run and The Mint in Cumberland for mobile wagering. Meanwhile, Kambi is focusing on retail-only betting services, covering Churchill Downs’ Ellis Park, Turfway Park, and Oak Grove.

As the Kentucky sports betting market opens its doors today, operators like DraftKings are primed to offer a wide array of betting options. This includes coverage of both collegiate and professional sports, along with the flexibility for bettors to explore features like same-game parlays, in-game betting, and player props, adding a layer of excitement to the betting experience in the Bluegrass State.

BetMGM Stepped Into Kentucky Market in August 2023

BetMGM, a key player in the sports betting arena, forged a substantial market access partnership with Revolutionary Racing Kentucky (RRKY) in August 2023, marking a significant milestone in the gambling landscape. This collaboration paves the way for BetMGM to introduce its cutting-edge online and retail sports betting platform to the eagerly awaiting market of Kentucky, pending the legalization of sports betting in the state.

The rollout plan outlined that retail sports betting was scheduled to debut on September 7th, 2023, with online betting following suit on September 28th. Adding to the excitement, a notable development is in the works: a sprawling 5,200 square foot BetMGM-branded sportsbook is set to grace the premises of Sandy’s Racing and Gaming. This impressive gaming and entertainment complex, valued at $75 million and owned by RRKY, will house this innovative sportsbook.

The groundwork for this strategic partnership was laid out earlier in June this year when Sandy’s Racing and Gaming initiated advanced discussions with a potential sports betting partner. Now, with the partnership between BetMGM and RRKY officially sealed, expectations are mounting for the dynamic sports betting experience that will soon be available to Kentucky residents, both within the physical space and through the digital platform.

In his statement, Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM, underscored Kentucky’s illustrious sports heritage and passionate fan base. He emphasized that joining forces with Revolutionary Racing aligns with their strategic vision, allowing them to offer an immersive and responsible gaming experience to the community:

“Kentucky has a rich history in sports and a passionate fan base. Revolutionary Racing is an ideal partner, enabling us to deliver an entertaining and responsible gaming experience, while investing in the state through job creation and tax revenue.”– Adam Greenblatt, CEO, BetMGM,Press Release

Caesars Sportsbook Rode Into Kentucky in June 2023

Caesars Sportsbook was already gearing up for the exciting prospects of legal sports betting in Kentucky in June 2023 by partnering with Keeneland and Red Mile racetracks. Through these strategic agreements, Caesars secured market access for mobile sports betting in the state, marking a significant step in the run-up to Kentucky’s sports betting launch.

These deals also include plans to establish and operate brick-and-mortar retail sports betting locations in Central Kentucky, contingent upon approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Notably, legal sports betting is a relatively new endeavor in Kentucky, with Governor Andy Beshear signing it into law in April 2023, adding to the anticipation surrounding this development in the Bluegrass State.

Eric Hession, President of Caesars Digital, marked the momentous partnership between Caesars and Keeneland and Red Mile racetracks. Hession acknowledged the significant legacy these institutions hold in the state of Kentucky. He emphasized the partnership as a remarkable opportunity, not just for Caesars as an operator but also for the enthusiastic sports betting community in the state:

“Keeneland and Red Mile are iconic horse racing venues with an important legacy in the state of Kentucky. Customers in the region have long enjoyed our world-class Caesars destinations and, most recently, our horse racing wagering app, Caesars Racebook. Working with these historic institutions provides an unmatched opportunity to reach sports and racing fans in the state, and we look forward to working with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as we prepare to launch later this year.”

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Author: James Richardson