The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission released emergency sports betting regulations earlier this month.
Once those rules were signed by Gov. Andy Beshear, the Kentucky sports betting industry officially had a regulatory framework. The emergency regulations will be used while the commission goes through the normal process and eventually passes ordinary regulations.
According to a prominent gaming attorney, this move was the only way to launch in time for the 2023 NFL season.
Temporary licenses give regulators much-needed time
Adam Berger is an attorney at the Duane Morris law firm in Philadelphia. He is a partner in the firm’s Corporate Practice Group and a member of the Gaming Industry Group. Berger has represented gaming and casino companies and financial institutions in various regulatory procedures.
Berger praised the KHRC’s decision to opt for temporary licensing.
“That’s what other jurisdictions have done,” Berger told PlayKentucky. “I think that’s smart, particularly for the operators and their market access partners. It will allow them to reach that lofty timing goal.”
When the KHRC released the regulations, it also announced a concrete timeline for the industry launch. The state’s retail sportsbooks can begin taking wagers on Sept. 7, and online sportsbooks begin operations on Sept. 28.
“Regulations just came out now, and applications are just getting started,” Berger said. “A two-and-a-half month period is really a short amount of time, but the temp license process was a smart move on their part to expedite things.”
Allowing temporary licenses cuts the time regulators spend on the licensing process, at least in the short term.
Following the temporary licenses, which last a year, regulators will accept applications again for a regular license.
Kentucky’s 18+ rule makes advertising rules easier to follow
The legislation legalizing sports betting in Kentucky allows anyone over 18 to wager. In most states, that barrier is 21.
In response, the KHRC implemented strict rules around advertising toward minors. But Berger said these regulations are actually easier to follow than in 21-plus states.
“They’ve reduced the scope of people that you can’t market to,” Berger told PlayKentucky. “From a marketing perspective, I think it probably makes it a little bit easier on the operator side. For better or for worse, there are less people they have to be concerned about.”
Market share is up for grabs in the Bluegrass State
The US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, making sports betting a state issue. Following Beshear’s signature on HB 551, 37 states and Washington, DC have passed legislation legalizing sports betting in some form.
In other words, Kentucky is late to the game.
That might not be great for Kentucky sports bettors. But it is a welcomed sight for smaller operators trying to break into the state.
DraftKings Sportsbook Kentucky and FanDuel Sportsbook Kentucky will likely garner an overwhelming majority of the state’s market share. However, Berger believes the rest of the pie is more up for grabs than some experts might assume.
“You’re talking about a market that’s launching in 2023, so the first-mover advantage that the traditional market leaders typically had might be less here,” Berger told PlayKentucky. “You’ll have companies who come in and start on day one who didn’t have that advantage in other states. I think that’s going to be an opportunity for others to take market share off the bat.”