Hoping For NFL Launch, Kentucky Already Writing Sports Betting Regulations

Posted on April 19, 2023

Although the bill legalizing sports betting in Kentucky won’t go into effect until June 28, state regulators are already working on drafts of sports betting regulations — with the lofty goal of launching by the NFL season.

That revelation came at the start of Tuesday’s meeting of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

“The commission, along with members of the Public Protection Cabinet, have begun the process of drafting proposed regulations, meeting with officials in other states that recently have legalized sports wagering, and working with our licensed associations and potential vendors,” Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz said in a prepared statement.

“The commission is excited for the opportunity afforded to it and are and will work tirelessly to craft clear, responsible, and thorough regulations for sports wagering in this commonwealth.”

The governor isn’t the only one who wants an NFL launch

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear made headlines when he told reporters last Friday that he hoped to have Kentucky sports betting up and running by the 2023-24 NFL season. But he’s not the only one with that aspiration.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer told Casino.org that, in his conversations with Rabinowitz, the chairman has emphasized he wants to have retail betting, online betting or both launched by the start of the college football and NFL seasons next fall.

The Kentucky sports betting bill, HB 551, stipulates sports betting in the state must be launched within 6 months of the bill’s effective date, June 28. So that would be Dec. 28, which falls at just about the end of the NFL regular season.

What Kentucky regulators’ early work means for launch timeline

However, with work already beginning on regulations, perhaps the lofty goals of a pre-NFL kickoff launch aren’t as far-fetched as they once seemed.

In Massachusetts, legalization to retail launch took six months — and then another month after that for online launch.

Six months from now is mid-October, about 1/3 of the way through the NFL season. Even getting Kentucky sports betting off the ground by that point would be a victory for a regulation process that has taken nearly a year in other states.

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Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain started as a Content Manager for PlayKentucky and other Catena Media sites in 2022. He covered the launch of Massachusetts sports betting and the Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 battle in California. Before that, he spent six years as a sports reporter and then deputy sports editor for the Des Moines Register, during which time he won nine statewide journalism awards, including the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award. As deputy sports editor, Matthew oversaw the Register's recruiting coverage while also innovating the outlet's high school sports coverage. Matthew graduated from San Diego State and grew up in California, but he's somehow a Boston Celtics fan. Long story.

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