The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Gov. Andy Beshear announced an aggressive legalization-to-launch timeline Monday, as sportsbooks will go live in Kentucky in September. The two-phase launch — retail is scheduled for Sept. 7, with a mobile sports betting go-live date of Sept. 28 — comes after Gov. Beshear signed HB 551 into law on March 31.
The KHRC and Beshear also approved emergency and ordinary sports betting regulations Monday, and those rules were published shortly after the meeting. The regulations were filed with the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission Monday, making them effective immediately.
The emergency rules are scheduled to expire on April 5, 2024, but can expire sooner if replaced before then by their corresponding ordinary regulations. A public comment hearing is expected to be held at the KHRC offices on Aug. 22. Written public comments on regulations can also be accepted through the end of August.
In September, the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee is tentatively scheduled to review the emergency regulations. The more permanent, ordinary regulations are tentatively scheduled to be reviewed by the subcommittee in October.
“I think we will be ready [to launch by Sept. 7], but certainly as we learn, I want us to be willing to adapt to make us the most desirable state to come spend those dollars in, but also to protect everybody involved,” Beshear said Monday.
Regulations target advertising
Kentucky’s sports betting law differs from many other jurisdictions in the U.S. in that customers can legally bet when they’re 18 years old rather than wait until age 21. Some problem gambling experts, including responsible gambling consultant Brianne Doura-Schawohl, disagree with this aspect of Kentucky’s sports betting law.
“The brain does not fully form until 25, so if you were to ask me [whether to make it legal at] 18 or 21, I’d take 25,” Doura-Schawohl previously told Sports Handle.
In seeking to address responsible gambling in Kentucky, the regulations include notes on self-exclusion programs and some interesting advertising criteria.
A licensee is prohibited from any “false or misleading advertising,” which leaves discretion with the KHRC to determine what exactly constitutes misleading advertising. The regulations also require licensees to make accurate representations regarding winnings. These advertisements can be deemed misleading if “the advertisement makes representations about average winnings without equally prominently representing the average net winning of all patrons.”
Licensees cannot advertise at elementary, middle, or high schools. Regulations do not prohibit advertising on college campuses, however, likely due in part to how the law allows anyone 18 or older to bet.
Some states, like Ohio and Massachusetts, have regulations preventing sportsbook operators from advertising on college campuses. Barstool Sportsbook was fined in Ohio for sharing a promotional sign-up code at a Barstool Sports college football show held on the University of Toledo’s campus.
Similar to a national crackdown of late, Kentucky’s regulations prohibit the use of “free” or “risk free” language to advertise a promotion if a customer is required to risk any of their own money.
Other notable regulations
Fixed-odds horse racing is not allowed under the regulations, but wagering on collegiate sports, professional sports, and esports is permitted.
The regulations do not mandate official league data use, as the regulation reads “a licensee shall report to the racing commission in its sports wagering license application the data source it uses to resolve sports wagers.” The commission can disapprove of a data source, but the current language doesn’t require an official league data mandate. Neighboring Tennessee recently scrapped its official league data mandate.
Service provider licenses will initially be granted as temporary licenses lasting no longer than one year and expiring at the end of the calendar year they are issued. Temporary licenses can turn into annual licenses, which cost $50,000 and have a $10,000 annual renewal fee.