Kentucky will be one of just a small handful of states where the legal age limit for sports betting is 18. However, Caesars Sportsbook, which recently secured its spot in the Kentucky market by partnering with Keeneland and The Red Mile, won’t be taking wagers from anyone that isn’t at least 21.
The move is part of the Caesars policy change prohibiting customers younger than 21 from creating Caesars Rewards accounts. As a result, Kentuckians that can’t purchase alcohol won’t be placing wagers with either of the Lexington sportsbooks.
But will Caesars be alone in this policy? Or will other Kentucky sports betting apps also ignore the 18-plus age limit and only allow 21-plus customers to place bets?
Why Caesars will remain 21+ in Kentucky
Sports betting in Kentucky won’t start until later this year, but Caesars became the first company to guarantee entry into the market. Caesars announced a partnership with Keeneland and Red Mile Racing earlier this week.
Per the deal, the Las Vegas-based gaming company will operate retail and online sportsbooks for the two racetracks. As a result, there will be a Caesars Sportsbook Kentucky app available in the Bluegrass State.
More importantly, Caesars revealed that it won’t accept wagers from bettors under 21.
Caesars reiterated its March 2023 policy in its press release about the partnership:
“Caesars is an industry leader in responsible gaming and continues to emphasize responsible gaming education as Caesars Sportsbook expands into new states,” the press release said. “The company recently adopted an enhanced 21+ gaming policy that limits Caesars Rewards® accounts to individuals over 21 and, where allowed by law, limits all domestic gaming, pari-mutuel, sports, and iGaming options to those 21 and older. This 21 and older policy will apply to all sports wagering operations conducted by Caesars Sportsbook in Kentucky.”
Increasing the minimum sports betting age keeps gambling out of young people’s hands until they’re old enough to consume alcohol legally. Caesars voluntarily keeping its Kentucky age limit at 21 also creates the impression that the gambling industry is ahead of the state regarding responsible gambling policy.
In some states, that’s true. For example, Arkansas allocated $200,000 in 2009 to combat problem gambling in its bill to legalize casinos. But in 2015, the state redirected funding to scholarships, despite 5,583 calls to the helpline that year, more than twice the amount 10 years prior.
What sportsbooks do in other 18+ states
Kentucky will become the fifth jurisdiction where 18 is the legal sports betting age. The other four? Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Wyoming and Washington, DC.
Caesars Sportsbook is 21-plus in all of its states.
BetMGM is 21-plus in all of its jurisdictions. So is FanDuel.
BetMGM Kentucky and FanDuel Kentucky will place themselves on the side of responsible gambling, and will join Caesars in restricting their apps to bettors aged 21 and over.
DraftKings is the only sportsbook available in New Hampshire, and it allows 18-plus betting. It also allows customers 18 and older to place bets in Wyoming. It, however, is also the only online sports betting option in Oregon, and it doesn’t allow any gamblers under 21 in that state.
Time will tell what DraftKings Sportsbook Kentucky decides to do. Same with a potential disruptor like Bet365 Sportsbook Kentucky, should it choose to launch in KY.
The operational advantages of a single gambling age
Having a single user age is a logistical choice as much as a responsible gambling one. Caesars has one app that it uses for every state it launches in. Setting two different standards for age verification creates a risk of mistakes.
DraftKings made a similar operational mistake in Ohio. Shortly after launching, DraftKings sent 150,000 direct ads to possible consumers. But 2,500 of those ads reached underage bettors. Therefore, they were fined $350,000 by Ohio regulators.
These ads reached 2,500 users old enough for daily fantasy sports but too young for sports betting. This kind of operational split created room for a fine in one of 2023’s few major sports betting market launches.
By standardizing its age verification, Caesars Sportsbook lessens the possibility of a regulatory misstep. It mitigates the possibility of a mistake that allows an 18-year-old to register for an account in a 21-plus state.
Caesars has become a more cautious player in the sports betting industry. Caesars faced a $150,000 fine in Ohio because an affiliate used the term “risk-free bet” in a way that violated Ohio’s sports betting advertising regulations — something that operators will surely avoid with their Kentucky sportsbook bonuses. Shortly after the fine was issued, Caesars terminated its agreement with the offending affiliate company.
As it continues expanding to new markets, Caesars Sportsbook is plugging any holes to ensure compliance in all jurisdictions. Caesars has little appetite left for mistakes made possible by chance.
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