Less than two weeks after Caesars became the first operator to announce an agreement for entry into Maine’s nascent sports wagering marketplace, Caesars has done the same in Kentucky, where its standalone horse betting app has been available since late last year.
Like Maine, Kentucky just recently legalized sports wagering and is likely months away from launch. But when such betting makes its bow in the Bluegrass State, Caesars should have brick-and-mortar sportsbooks up and running at two Lexington-based horse racetracks: Keeneland and Red Mile Gaming & Racing.
“Keeneland’s venture with Caesars Sportsbook holds exciting potential and furthers our mission to introduce new audiences to horse racing,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said in a press release Tuesday. “Caesars is a globally respected brand, and we value their commitment to racing and their expertise in sports wagering.”
Under Kentucky’s sports betting law, which takes effect June 1, each of the state’s nine racetracks will be permitted to open a retail sportsbook and have up to three mobile partners, meaning there could ultimately be 27 mobile sportsbooks in the state.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has been designated as the state regulator and the legal sports wagering age will be 18 — consistent with the legal age for horse betting but three years younger than the standard for sports betting in most states. Caesars, however, will not accept wagers from Kentucky bettors under the age of 21.
Kentucky also boasts the most profitable legal assemblage of Historical Horse Racing (HHR) machines in the United States.
Goliaths lie in wait
While Caesars is the first sports betting operator to announce its entry point in Kentucky, it obviously won’t be the last. A spokesperson for FanDuel confirmed that Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI), with whom FanDuel announced a multifaceted partnership in late 2022, will be its market access partner, although specific details were not provided.
CDI owns more racetracks — Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, and Turfway Park among them — and HHR parlors than any other entity in Kentucky, while FanDuel is the only U.S. sports betting operator to thus far offer a shared wallet for horse and sports betting.